Archive for December 31, 2014

Amongst Myselves – “The Past Is Another Country” (Amongst Projects 2014, CD/DL)

Amongst Myselves is the solo project of Australian composer and musician Steve Roberts and The Past Is Another Country is his 7th album since 1999.

This is Space-Ambient music that requires attentive listening to fully absorb, yet at the same time has a subliminal quality that performs mind massage while planting imagery in the listener’s brain. In my case this ranged from lone man in the bowels of the spacecraft scenes to darkly atmospheric drifting through pitch black space. If it’s true that in space no one can hear you scream, then the lightly symphonic rumbling drones and slowly sweeping soundscape waves certainly paint a sonic portrait of what the experience of being there might be like. The music can also be peacefully majestic and uplifting, like an angelic drift toward the event horizon of a black hole. Who could imagine that the point of no return could be so blissful? Dark Places, Winter Shadows is one of my favorite tracks. It retains the deep space character of the album while incorporating phantasmal voices, ghostly harmonies, the sounds of nature, a needle spinning around the end of an LP side, and dark orchestral drama, as if we were traversing across multiple dimensions that intertwine with the living and spectral worlds. Cave Of The Swimmers goes in a slightly different direction and is one of the most quietly understated pieces, suggesting cosmic drama in some alien environment where the ambience provides the underlying drive for a succession of singular pulsations, waves, rushing wind, and percussive clatter. The Day The Crickets Listened surprised me by getting downright musical, with guitar plucking and strumming a pleasant melody surrounded by bubbling space symphonics, drones and soundscapes to create a kind of Ambient Space-Prog excursion.

I noticed in the promo sheet that Roberts’ intention with this album is to focus on experimental landscapes and leave the more melodic pieces behind, and indeed that is largely what the music on The Past Is Another Country is about. In short, headphones and surrender are the way to experience and enjoy this 60 minutes of Space-Ambient bliss.

For more information visit the Amongst Myselves web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Bret Hart – “December Sketches” (self-released 2014, Download)

Homemade music veteran Bret Hart’s December Sketches is a collection of loop experimentation tunes where he uses a pedalboard configuration to send his instruments and electronics before being fed into the looper.

I like the quirky yet nonetheless seamless flow of Graham Crackers, as Bret plays melodic leads to the various looped patterns which include machine-like crunches, off-kilter stabs of notes, and other sundry sounds. LALALALALA sounds at first like an outtake from a late 70s Residents’ album played at a nicely drugged half speed. The strange La-La-La’ing voices give it much of the Residents feel, and added to that are sludgy stoned bass (or guitar), freaky guitar licks that sounds like Mike Radledge Soft Machine keys, and it’s all anchored by dosed percussion. This is fucked up Psychedelic surrealism clunking along at a chaotically measured slow motion pace and seriously messin’ with your head. Working the Oracle kicks off with high intensity yet atmospheric blasts of sound, devolving into a chaotic symphony of harmoniously out of sync Psych guitars, some noisily harsh and others noisily melodic. Another Graham Cracker once again finds that oddball balance between eardrum searing harshness and pleasant melody. I like the multiple guitar leads, all of which have a different sound, all to varying degrees being noise infused acidic, and drifting along at a clunky dope flowing pace. Fuzzy Sketch of Tulips is a melodic, whimsical, and lysergically surreal tune. Debutante Comes Out lays down incessantly repetitive electronic blasts that sound like we’re in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory. Bret starts playing the riff to the Beatles’ Day Tripper, zoning and jamming at the same drugged drifting pace that characterizes most of these tunes. One of the leads has a beautifully sing-song but sporadically acid damaged quality that feels like Fripp meets Hendrix on the Star Spangled Banner, making for another symphony of freaky brain fuckedness. Its fer what ails ya. Finally, PorcuPie Ala Mode sounds like Captain Beefheart styled Blues played by Psychedelic Industrial Stoner Noise artists from space.

It’s creatively crazy stuff and if you’ve read this far then get ye forth quickly to Bret’s Soundcloud page where you can hear it all for yourself.

Stream and download December Sketches at:
Click the Vimeo link in the top-right corner of the Soundcloud page to see a video of Bret explaining the pedal board he used.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Lamp Of The Universe / Trip Hill split (Clostridium Records 2014, CD/LP)

The excellent German label Clostridium Records has released a nifty split album featuring Lamp Of The Universe and an Italian one-man project I’ve never heard of called Trip Hill. Trip Hill is headed up by Fabrizio Cecchi, who according to has sporadically released albums as Trip Hill since 1998.

Clostridium have championed Lamp Of The Universe since the label’s inception, having begun by reissuing the two out of print debut Lamp albums from 2001 and 2002, and have made new material available since. Lamp Of The Universe is a solo project from New Zealand based multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson who has also been in the heavy rock bands Datura and Arc of Ascent. The Lamp contribution to this split is a nearly 22 minute epic titled Domain Of The Buddha. I see in the credits the track is from 2006. I checked all my Lamp albums and Googled it and this apparently has never been released before and it blows my mind that Craig would have sat on it all these years because it’s a stunner. A gently narcotic drone wave sweeps the listener through space as a mesmerizing flute plays its lovely melody, liquid acid guitar pulsates, the sitar lightly drones, tripped out effects bubble and shimmer, and Craig’s delicate vocals play shaman guide for this trance inducing journey. Every Psychedelic cliché that any writer has ever come up with absolutely, totally, appropriately applies here.

After a noisy intro we learn why Trip Hill makes such a good pairing for Lamp Of The Universe. Bright Spring starts off sounding like Syd-era Floyd with sitar and freaky electronic effects and then develops into an intense acid rocker. Actually the effects have a strange rhythm that brings to mind the feel of the jug in the 13th Floor Elevators. Raining Metallic Mushroom is a cool tune that combines trippy Eastern influenced Psych with a strange kind of traditional music feel, and punctuates it all with punchy acid guitar leads. I Need Someone is a cool grooving and hard rocking Psych song with spaced out electronic effects and blazing wah guitar. And Driving Over The Rainbow sounds a like a melodic drone blend of West Coast Psych and the Beatles at their trippiest. I’d like to hear more of Cecchi’s work.

The album is available in both CD and LP editions. Vinyl junkies should check the Clostridium web site for three tasty options.

For more information visit the Clostridium Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

If, Bwana – “Tibetan Belles” (Haltapes 2014, CDR/DL)

If, Bwana is the long lived project of Al Margolis, revered by many homemade musicians as the godfather of American cassette culture. Margolis’ Sound of Pig label (which later morphed into Pogus Productions) was a showcase for many experimental music artists throughout the 1980s-90s.

Tibetan Belles consists of 10 tracks, some recorded in the studio and some in various live performances. The 10 minute title track is a powerful opener, being a sparse yet compelling solo bells performance. The highlights are the extended fades after the bells are struck, as they ring, oscillate, and impose a hypnotically commanding presence in the listener’s brain. With the headphones on at low volume, the ringing of these bells are a simultaneously hypnotic and unsettling experience, being beautifully and effectively recorded. Margolis is equally spare with a Casio sound exploration, recalling an electronic experimentation from the 60s as he accentuates various bleeps, blurps and sundry sci-fi sounds. Ditto for the Roland Micro Composer piece which is like an old time electronic music demonstration, creating a grab bag of retro 50s movie soundtrack effects and alien sine waves which worked on my brain much as the bells did. This theme continues on the guitar synth and Moog Rogue tracks. I never would have guessed the instrument was a guitar synth, making the whirling, whistling and howling sci-fi sounds all the more entrancing, and conjuring up some Louis and Bebe Barron electronic master class, or late 60s World’s Fair World Of Tomorrow exhibit on the Rogue track. Margolis also manipulates conventional instruments, including noisily caressing violin and some interesting spluttering trumpet sounds.

What makes Tibetan Belles such a provocative listen is the recording quality, which is excellent and puts singular focus on the sounds, making the experience feel like being the sole audience member during a sensory deprivation tank performance. Even the Lodge track, which is clearly live, sounds good.

To purchase the CDR version of Tibetan Belles visit the information packed Haltapes web site at:
Stream and download at the Haltapes Bandcamp site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

A.J. Kaufmann – “Stoned Gypsy Wanderer” Review and Interview

A.J. Kaufmann – “Stoned Gypsy Wanderer” (Kendra Steiner Editions 2014, CDR/DL)

I was introduced to the music of Polish musician, songwriter and poet A.J. Kaufmann in 2013 through Sauer Adler, his duo project with Kacper Wojaczek. I was impressed with their lo-fi yet rich and robust brand of 60s inspired Psychedelia, Prog-Psych and Folk-Psych, and their The Trips and Dreams of Stephen Adler album released earlier this year demonstrated a knack for fine songwriting and impressive instrumental arrangements.

A.J. recently sent me a package including his first solo album, the 2011 vinyl LP released Second Hand Man, several of his poetry chapbooks, and his latest album, Stoned Gypsy Wanderer. Both albums feature outstanding artwork by Justin Jackley, an Austin, Texas based artist whose work I’ve become increasingly familiar with over the past year (check him out at

A.J. currently has 15 albums available on his Bandcamp site, featuring music that ranges from stripped down Folk to music that is not unlike Sauer Adler, and Stoned Gypsy Wanderer will surely appeal to Sauer Adler fans. Like Sauer Adler, A.J.’s music has a lo-fi homemade feel, but he does so much with the tools at his disposal.

Several of the album’s 14 songs have a vocals and acoustic guitar driven acid-minstrel quality that reminds me of the Bevis Frond, though like Nik Saloman, A.J. has his own sound. Representative tunes include Amaranth Blues and the title track, plus the majestic C.O.K.E., with its screaming guitar, and I love the trippy, mind-bending effects that augment This is Not New York and Slavia Nova. There’s lot of variety too. I love the jangly yet endearingly dissonant Folk-Psych of Berger. Crown Of Things is a darkly Gothic, droning Acid-Pop song with lysergic guitar lines that weave a snake-like trail amongst the catchy melody. Wine Of Rape is a hauntingly seductive slab of Psychedelic Prog-Pop, with organ, piano and orchestration. There are also songs with a high energy rocking feel, and even some that are whimsically fun. Still Within gushes with spirited Psych infused Folk Rock and ripping electric guitar fills. A.J. goes totally trippy on the equally energetic Whispering Egypt, with its wildly wah’d freak guitar, haunting organ and spaced out mesmerizing vibe. I like the lively, Celtic tinged Veil Of Isis and the bouncy In a Blue and Violet Morning. Iceberg has a stoned, trippy, carnival-like rhythmic pulse, horn section, and jabbing keyboard notes. And Operation is the most different track of the set, having a quirky New Wav-ish rocking feel that reminded me of an early 80s Bill Nelson song. Stoned Gypsy Wanderer is a captivating set of songs which mine the Psychedelic, Folk and Prog realms and are then stamped with A.J.’s own personal touch.

Wanting to know more about A.J. and his background I conducted the following interview by email…

Aural Innovations (AI): Looking at the dates of the many albums available at Bandcamp it looks like you’ve been recording since 2009? Tell me about when and what inspired you to become a musician?

A.J. Kaufmann (A.J.): Well, me and my friend Mati were recording since we were kids really, since 2002. Back then we used to record bass, guitars and vocals live direct to tape in a high rise block apartment in Poznan, Poland. I think the influences have been primarily Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and Amon Duul II; also Manilla Road and other classic metal bands. Those tapes were awful in terms of our skills, performance and quality, though I still occasionally recycle those riffs, as heard in parts of the Stoned Gypsy Wanderer album. But yes, by myself, I started recording in 2009, demoing new and old songs. I always liked to write and make noise, since I was a kid. I think originally there hasn’t been a philosophy or particular reason to start writing and playing music. I just did various things with notebooks and guitars.

AI: Other than Sauer Adler and your solo work, have you been in any other bands? If so, what was the music like?

A.J.: Yes, I mentioned my early teens project with Mati. It was called Brain Salad first, later Strange World. Lots of noise. It lasted 2 years and we did seven C90 cassettes. Other than that I played in a local indie band called Orchid. The singer had a Patti Smith kind of vibe going on. And I think that’s all worth mentioning here – Strange World because it was the first project that performed original songs, and Orchid because it was cool playing live on the radio and in local clubs with them as a lead guitarist – my first gigs in that role. I don’t feel too good having to work with other people. I feel best working alone.

AI: Your music is difficult to neatly summarize, but seems to draw on a variety of Psychedelic, Folk and Prog influences. In some cases you sound like a coffee shop Folk singer, in others like an acid minstrel not unlike the Bevis Frond, and still others have a fuller Prog-Psych feel.

A.J.: Yes, I listen to everything really, and as Jerry Garcia once said about the Dead, I believe – “We’re clever thieves”. So, I try to “steal” the best from everything I like most and mix it together, get the best ideas for a sound, style or feeling. Coffee shop folk singer sounds closest to my soul, since when I lived in Berlin I used to perform at so called Liedermacher Nachte – Songwriter Nights. So an acid minstrel is also close to the feeling. Thinking psychedelic I love 13th Floor Elevators most, Guthrie and Dylan on the folk side, and I think Rush up to Moving Pictures has no rivals in the field of prog rock. My debut album has been distributed by Lynx Music which deals with art rock primarily, so I was surprised that the local art rock press actually not only was interested in, but also liked an album I consider pop.

AI: Continuing on the theme of influences, the only analogies to other artists I made in the Sauer Adler reviews was Syd Barrett and Peter Hammill. Anything to that? I’ll add that Operation from Stoned Gypsy Wanderer strikes me as having an early 80s Bill Nelson feel.

A.J.: I had to look up Bill Nelson, and then laughed cause last year I bought my first Be Bop Deluxe album, Futurama. Paid no attention to the band members’ names. Sorry. Funny, cause Operation was giving my best shot at copying Killing Joke. Syd Barrett and Peter Hammill are OK in my book, and I sometimes give Syd’s music a spin. I would like to add Robert Calvert. I think I’m his biggest fan in my city. There is more poetry in Quark Strangeness and Charm, the song, alone, than in what fills some of the big names on the scene’s books these days. I know Kacper is a fan of Dream Theater, Genesis and Rush. Oh, and Deep Purple.

AI: I count 15 A.J. Kaufmann albums on Bandcamp. Many of them seem to compile recordings from 2009 to the present. And nearly all released just in the past couple years. What’s been going on that’s made you so prolific in such a short amount of time?

A.J.: Wish I knew that. I have no idea, really. Some of the songs are really old, with ideas dating back to 2002, some are recorded instantly after the writing process, some are fully improvised. Maybe I realized my stuff is good enough to release it, after 6 years of working as a poet, and one critically acclaimed studio album. So, I’ve had some studio experience with my debut LP, watching Andrzej at work, then I watched Kacper at work, and I learned from them both, got some better software and decided it’s time to reach out to the people and stop pretending “oh, you know, I just record these on this computer mic, it’s nothing, really”. But I still use this Labtec mic, this time only when I intend to achieve real lo-fi quality. I don’t need big budgets for my lo-fi sound.

AI: Second Hand Man, from 2011, is noted on Bandcamp as your first solo album. How did you happen to end up with a vinyl release? Is Mimic’s Cool your own label?

A.J.: Yes, that’s the debut. Wish I had a real label of my own one day. I use the SyfPop or dada folk moniker for digital releases. The Second Hand Man story was a complicated situation involving big money, ZAiKS and hot air balloons, everyone fooling everyone, but I’m just glad that the vinyl is out there. I think it was released just moments before, or on the wave of Polish vinyl craze, so I believe that’s the main reason for its appearance in this format. Anyway, I’m glad mostly because I love listening to LPs myself, and that Justin Jackley’s artwork looks most beautiful when it’s large. Despite great reviews, expectations, and the vinyl release, the album never was a commercial success.

AI: Your latest album, Stoned Gypsy Wanderer is a CDR release on the Kendra Steiner label. With all the music you have recorded, how did that one come to their attention and interest?

A.J.: Kendra Steiner Editions keeps publishing my poetry since 2008. Bill Shute is the owner and driving force of the operation since 2006. I know he respects me as a person and poet, and he also knows I make music. Stoned Gypsy Wanderer was originally meant to be another digital-only release, but when Bill heard it he liked it so much, he sent me an e-mail and asked about the rights to the album, and since he wanted a fresh psychedelic album for his label, I said all clear. I think, privately, he likened the ambience to Eno, Dylan demos and mentioned P.F. Sloan. He’s got a great taste in music, one can tell by the music releases on KSE.

AI: Stoned Gypsy Wanderer is such a great title. Does that describe you?

A.J.: Glad you like it. In a way, yes. It certainly describes the part of me, or that persona, that recorded this album. The recording process and lifestyle during it was insane.

AI: One aspect of your music, both solo and Sauer Adler, that I find attractive, is it has a lo-fi/homemade quality, but you manage to achieve far more than living room results. You seem to do so much with a little. What kind of gear do you use and under what conditions do you typically record?

A.J.: Thank you. The Sauer Adler sound is all Kacper’s work. I think I’m listed as a co-producer on The Trips and Dreams of Stephen Adler, but that’s for small creative input and ideas. Kacper is now a licensed sound engineer, so he can really do much with a little all on his own. Making music solo, at Amaranth House, I use my two favorite guitars: a plain Fender El-Acoustic that has been with me since 2008, and a Gibson SG ’61 Reissue which I bought new. And a Laney amp. For vocals I use Shure SM58. I also use the old Labtec computer mic if I want THE lo-fi sound. And software of course. I have no professional microphones or other usual studio equipment at all. Currently, I re-arranged the recording room so it feels hippiesque and easy, recording mostly sitting on the floor, no chairs at all, no unnecessary distractions. Green tea and incense It helps to focus.

AI: How do you see your solo work differing from Sauer Adler? The music is not dramatically different.

A.J.: Maybe right now it isn’t, cause Sauer Adler started basically as a vehicle for my songs, but we are slowly evolving. Kacper is writing more and more for Sauer Adler, like Dance of the Rainbow Elephant or Addiction from our latest album and we are also writing more together, as a real songwriting team, so we hope to get better and better at that, and with our upcoming Wojaczekful of Kaufmann EP we will debut all new songs we co-wrote. One of it will be Come for Tea which I demoed for my Fazam Orgazam album.

AI: You sent me some of your poetry chapbooks. Do you consider yourself primarily a writer or musician? Or are the two inseparable?

A.J.: Primarily a writer – poet, songwriter – cause I know I’m a good one. I believe I called myself a musician on occasions, maybe even in earlier interviews, but I would never seriously call myself that again. I mean, am I a singer? No, David Bowie is. Am I a guitarist? No, look at Tony Iommi.

AI: I was looking with interest at the web site from the back of your books. Is this a networking site for Polish poets?

A.J.: No, this was my own Polish micro-press. I self-financed and published 27 chapbooks. Each was a limited hand-numbered edition of 25 copies. Apart from my own work I published USA’s Michael Aaron Casares and Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal among others. Both poets I respect up to this day. The chapbooks you received were actually New Polish Beat chapbooks, plus a collaboration with Bill Shute which was published by Kendra Steiner Editions back in 2008. Meditations on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

AI: For music networking and distribution, are Bandcamp and Facebook your primary vehicles? I’m fascinated by the directions, which are still unclear, that music distribution is going and always interested in hearing about the experiences that different artists are having.

A.J.: Bandcamp and Facebook, right. I’m relatively new to it, as tools of networking and distribution. But I perceive Bandcamp as being simple and honest, and, so far, I can recommend it wholeheartedly. Facebook is theoretically good for spreading the news, sharing links, information and keeping in touch via chat, though recently I feel I need more ways of reaching potential fans and more promotional possibilities. I’m sure there are better tools than Facebook for that. I got loads of fresh music that’s only got one flaw – very few people have heard it.

AI: I only rarely receive submissions from bands in Poland, or any of the Eastern European countries for that matter. Are you unusual in your country or are there other Psych bands in Poland that I just haven’t heard of?

A.J.: I thought you do, I don’t think I’m unusual, don’t feel like it anyway. I’m sure there’s other psychedelic singers/songwriters and bands in Poland. If they exist, I don’t know them and don’t listen to their music. It might surprise you, but I rarely listen to any psychedelic music at home. Right now it’s lots of new romantic and 80s electronica. And when I want to listen to psychedelic music I choose US/UK classics, I don’t need imitations. And I believe most of the modern psychedelic craze is just revival work, sadly. More fashion than content. I can however recommend a great 60s/70s psychedelic/progressive band from Poland, Klan and their classic album Mrowisko. It’s a must hear, and I believe they’re active again. Also, I’m more keen on the space rock scene which I keep discovering not only on my own, but also through Aural Innovations reviews and radio.

AI: Do you get to perform live much? I see a live Sauer Adler performance at a bookstore from early 2014 on Bandcamp.

A.J.: Yes, I think I know which performance you’re referring to. Chaotic, poor sound quality, but fun. Sauer Adler performs occasionally, so do I. If the pay is right, I play. If not, I have a whole variety of better things to do with my time. And good payment for live music in Poland is rare, unless you’re a celebrity, plus there’s not much interest in my music in the town where I currently live, which doesn’t make things easier.

AI: Any future news or plans you care to share?

A.J.: There’s a lot planned for 2015, but the most important things include 2 new albums: Kaufi and Bright Galore, also a new lo-fi series, The Shapes of Folk to Come, which I hope will consist of 3 volumes of folksy noise, and the Sauer Adler EP I mentioned, Wojaczekful of Kaufmann. Also, I’m working with Bill Shute of KSE on a poetry chapbook weaved around the persona of The Red Elvis himself, Mr. Dean Reed. I think these are the most important plans for 2015.

To order the Stoned Gypsy Wanderer CDR, visit the Kendra Steiner Editions web site at: (CLICK HERE to go direction to Stoned Gypsy Wanderer)
To stream and download Stoned Gypsy Wanderer and other A.J. Kaufmann albums, visit his Bandcamp site at:
To stream and download Sauer Adler albums, visit:

Review and interview by Jerry Kranitz
Photography by Karolina Fiszer
Stylization by Laboratorium Loo

Ron Bracale – “Entangled Spaces” (self-released 2014, Download)

Ron Bracale is a Cleveland based musician who plays a variety of flutes, having studied under various Jazz, Indian Raga, Classical, Blues and Rock instructors. Combining his flutes with synthesizers, Bracale creates music intended to promote world peace and healing.

Sound New Agey? It is. But Bracale transcends the fluff by injecting interesting World Music, spaced out electronic and sound sample elements. Like a jamming shaman, the flute flutters its mystical call to prayer melodies, accompanied by space ambient soundscapes, drones and effects. I love the combination of om chant inspiration and alien freakiness on some tracks, and darkly droning deep space ambience on others. But illumination can be intense at times, like on Ocean Spirit, which sounds like the shaman busking at a busy train station by the wave crashing seaside. And Fearless Love, which places our peripatetic sage in the bowels of a space station engine room, cranking out his nurturing and somewhat jazzy melodies as the clanks, bubbles and clunks of the machinery drone around him.

Imagine a Native American medicine man playing the healing guru to a circle of meditating extra-terrestrials. Or maybe the kind of music Hawkwind would have recorded for the Windham Hill label. Or perhaps a form of Sun Ra cosmic soundscape-drone-jazz creation. The music on Entangled Spaces is all these things, with world music inspiration and deep space exploration served up in equal measure.

For more information visit Ron Bracale’s web site at:
Purchase Entangled Spaces and other Ron Bracale albums at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Lee Negin – “Groundless” (Passing Phase Records 2014, Download)

Now based in Seoul, South Korea, Lee Negin was part of the 1980s Detroit techno scene. My introduction to Negin’s music was just months ago with another 2014 release: The Cheeze Chronicles: Volume V, a “technopera” that I described as “a space crazed blend of 80s New Wave, Neue Neutsche Welle, Kraftwerk and The Residents” (CLICK HERE to read the review). Whereas The Cheeze Chronicles threatened to burst the fun and freaky meters, Negrin’s latest album, Groundless, teeters between pure electronic freakiness and cerebral mind massage.

The promo sheet describes the music as “a collection of extended electro-acoustic, ambient, electronic, new-world (other world), psychedelic dreamscapes”, though I’d say the psychedelic dreamscape motif is what predominates throughout. Forever (never, never) is a lysergic cauldron of psychedelic electronica, with deep space symphonics, dreamily spectral voice samples, spiraling waves of effects, and drones that are cosmic orchestral but also deeply cavernous, all anchored by a parade of warming melodies and sporadic rhythmic propulsions. The Shadow Play is a bustling mash of ducking and weaving alien effects that give the impression of an extra-terrestrial slalom race, before transitioning to a floating orchestral dreamland. The dreamy, deep space orchestration continues on Last Gasp, creating a mystifying and uplifting brand of psychedelic New Age music. I like the way the melodies and slowly pulsating drone waves intertwine to create a meditative experience that is nonetheless far too multi-faceted to permit any dozing on the listener’s part. A group of angels create music for the acid dosed heavens on Groundless, making for a lusciously convoluted yet gently wafting journey. Groundless II follows and is a little different, starting off avant space-orchestral and then transitioning to a cool grooving and intriguingly strange blend of rhythms and melodies. Finally, (Elegy for) The Last Ship Leaving features a mixture of cosmic chamber ensemble, space-ambience, and cinematic sci-fi soundtrack music, making for an empyrean night at the symphony, the theme of which is a concurrent tour through black holes, multi-dimensions, and the darkest but busiest regions of the universe.

So, wow, Negin has been around since the 80s and I’m just discovering him through two very different but ultimately related albums. I haven’t heard electronica that’s this strange, reflective, seductive and fun in quite a while.

For more information visit the Lee Negin web site at:
Visit the Passing Phase Records web site at:
CDs and downloads of several Lee Negin albums are available at CDBaby:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Comets ov Cupid – “Eko Eko Aradia” (self-released 2015, CD/DL)

I’ve been following guitarist Jason Kesselring’s work since the early Aural Innovation days, starting with the late great Minneapolis based Space/Psych/Kraut Rock band Skye Klad (who I also got to see live at the 2000 Strange Daze Space Rock Festival). Kesselring went solo with Satyrswitch, a vehicle to explore his interest in Jansch/Graham/Basho guitar styles and other acoustic music. Now based in North Dakota, Kesselring’s solo project of recent years has been Comets ov Cupid, which across his first three albums covered textural Ambient/Drone explorations and blistering Space Rock for the alchemically inclined.

Eko Eko Aradia is the fourth Comets Ov Cupid album and draws inspiration from the 70s German Kosmische pioneers like Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze and Cluster, as well as ambient/minimalists like Fripp/Eno, Glenn Branca, Earth and Sunn 0))).

The album consists of 4 tracks in just under 40 minutes. All the pieces were played in one take with little to no overdubs. Acoustic and electric guitars are the main instruments, as well as theremin and a Micro Korg on the opening track, Sein Und Zeit, which starts off with expansive yet minimal soundscapes and spartan guitar patterns. Multiple guitar parts are gradually introduced until it sounds like a cosmic symphony of repetitive chordal arrangements and spaced out solos which brought to mind a Cluster enhanced duet between Manual Gottsching and Robert Fripp. This bleeds into the 15 minute title track, which begins with a dark, lightly symphonic drone and strange voice samples that repeat “Eko Eko Aradia”, which I learned from good ‘ol Wikipedia is the opening phrase to a Wiccan chant. The guitar adds to the drifting, cosmically orchestral feel, creating a doomy impression and lacing the atmosphere with swirling and soaring waves of caustically Psychedelic strikes and screeching runs of what sound like an acid damaged violin. The music soon settles into a sweeping yet disorienting minimalist orchestral exploration that straddles the line between intense acid-noise and cloud floating, atmospheric drone. As the finale seeps into Fly By The Comet, we sail along with lightly jamming acoustic guitar and hovering efx’d guitar that’s like a soundscape generating, gliss-like banshee violin, which becomes darkly intense and even a little rhythmic rocking as it morphs into The Infernal Star. And sure enough, the multiple guitar parts start to rock out like some kind of avant-Psychedelic Branca guitar symphony. The intensity increases to apocalyptic levels, with smoldering stoner doom surges and a sense of sheer cosmic corrosion. Yet despite the high intensity skirmish, the music never loses a general perception of meditative drift.

As an artisan/constructor of aural landscapes, Kesselring nimbly blends his classic Kosmiche and ambient/minimalist influences to create a journey into the furthest reaches of Psychedelic color and texture. And he does so without always so heavily drenching his guitar with effects that it’s beyond recognition.

The cover photo is worth a mention as it aroused my interest. It’s a futuristic ruin known in Fortean Folklore as the “North Dakota Illuminati Pyramid”. It’s a relic from the height of the Cold War though many conspiracies still abound as to its real function. When I questioned Jason about it he pointed me to a web site which explained that it was situated on a missile site radar complex used to locate missiles fired from foreign powers at the USA so that they could be destroyed. The base was armed with 30 Spartan anti-ballistic missiles with thermonuclear warheads and sixteen short-range Sprint missiles. How fortunate for the North Dakotans to play host to all that Cold War fun.

For more information visit the Comets ov Cupid web site at:
The download is available at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Secret Saucer – “Nachvollziehens” (self-released 2014, CD/DL)

Secret Saucer have at various times included members of Quarkspace, Architectural Metaphor, Star Nation, Sun Machine and others, being a collective of musicians from some of best Space Rock bands in the northeastern U.S. Nachvollziehens is their latest album and compiles remixed tracks from earlier albums, live in the studio tracks, and a previously unreleased song.

Evade is the unreleased tune and is a smokin’ hot Space Rock ‘n Roller with punky guitar that brings to mind early Farflung. But it’s also got tense, high pitched keys that give the music a sci-fi TV theme feel. Mix in some President Obama and newscast samples and we’ve got us a shit kickin’ Politico Space Rock song. A Sublime Metaphor is one of the live in the studio tracks, being a steady paced jam with a Psychedelic soulful feel, and led by wailing, melodic, trippy angst guitar combined with lots of threatening alien electronic efx action. Liftoff is the other live tune and another song that has a catchy soundtrack styled melody, along with Prog keys, killer rocking guitar and an onslaught of effects. Lunar Pull is a remix of a track from the Four On The Floor album, with all new guitar from Steve Bemand, whose resume includes a brief stint with Hawkwind, Technicians Of Spaceship Hawkwind, The Starfighters, The Glissando Guitar Orchestra, and most recently The Timelords, who released the excellent Convergence album earlier this year. The keys inject a powerful early 80s Neo-Prog feel, but the rhythm guitar is all Hawkwind, though Bemand switches to melodic Prog mode for the beautifully tasty solo. And I think the heavily efx’d robot vocals provide a nice contrast.

The other four remix tracks include Steve Taylor, Greg Kozlowski from Architectural Metaphor, and Paul Williams and Jay Swanson from Quarkspace in the lineup. I’ve always loved Jay’s keyboards. I’d know his playing anywhere. On Light Years Away he provides the flowing, melodic Quarkspace feel and plays pied piper to the legion of electronics that scramble around him. We’ve also got dual guitars, one tripping out in space and the other ripping off killer rocking solos. I love the combination of meditative stream and genuine edge of your seat tension. Desert of Existence has a cosmically soaring Pink Floyd infused Architectural Metaphor feel. Greg’s guitar licks are like some kind of space shaman on Mind Mechanics, which sounds cool along with the frantically off-kilter synth pattern that soon eases into Jay’s jamming piano. Tension never felt so good as we groove along steadily in space. Finally, the 15+ minute Atom Smasher is fully double the length of the original version on the Element 115 album. It’s all atmosphere and journey through the cosmic countryside, with a strange but alluring combination of spaced out Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here drift and miscellaneous sounds, like machines, birds, and lots of carefully incorporated effects. Then after the 9 minute mark the band launch into a steady but power rocking jam that has a strong Quarkspace feel, embellished with ripping guitar solos and wildly swarming electronics.

In summary, Nachvollziehens is a potent set of (mostly) instrumental Space Rock. There’s enough that’s different here for those with the entire catalog to want to pick it up, and is the ideal place to start for newcomers.

Purchase the Nachvollziehens CD or digital version at:
Other Secret Saucer albums are available there as well.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Edward Ka-Spel – “The Victoria Dimension” (BLRR label, 2014, CD/DL)

If Syd Barrett were an 80s Goth he would be Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots. At first the album did not strike me as anything great, but after several spins the album both nods toward the 25 year old Legendary Pink Dots classic LP The Maria Dimension (which is getting a 5LP box treatment from the Soleilmoon label very soon) and 80s Edward Ka-Spel albums like his China Doll series of LPs from the 80s. The vocals are cryptic and dark and gothic, a strange piano, odd finger drums and the intro to the first song called Limburgia has a Indian raga like beat. All the 8 tracks flow like a single sequence of interworked songs, though they are all different and separate tracks. Here we do not have the Noise sculpture and abstract Industrial splatter like on Dream Loops or Ghost Logik from a few years ago, nor the electronic madness of Edward’s Dream Logik trilogy. The third track, The Border Beyond, has ominous police sirens in the distance closing in and leaving again, fading in and out again like a spectre on the “force”. Edward sings very low key. It takes either great concentration to follow his lyrics, or you can do like me, imagine the darkwave ramblings of a 80s Goth Syd Barrett, though as a lyricist Edward and Syd do not share any similarity, just the voice and the beatnik whimsy style. I ordered the double disc Deluxe set and got a second CD with two tracks, one song is etched as vinyl on the CDR and plays perfectly on my turntable while the other song is there next to it as a digital track, and they both share the same side of the disc. Those two tracks are very analogue and Victorian style forms of musics, maybe after a little Opium and Absinthe…

Overall this is a great grower of an album. It will take me a year to fully absorb all its layered and cryptic meaning, but the melody and song and moods are there. Get this CD if you like 80s The Legendary Pink Dots, and the Chyekk / AaAazhyd / Eyes! / Lyvv China Doll Ka-Spel LPs. They have been remastered by BLRR and sound very nice. Let Edward paint your soul Victorian and prepare yourself for a dose of Barretesque Steampunk Darkwave.

To purchase, stream and download visit the Legendary Pink Dots Bandcamp site at:
Visit the the Legendary Pink Dots web site at:
Visit the Beta-lactam Ring Records web site at:

Reviewed by Christian Mumford