Tag Archives: Space rock

Yuri Gagarin – At The Centre Of All Infinity (2015)

Somewhere, on a frozen colony moon a scientist steps out of the research facility. The shutters clang shut behind him. Stamping his feet, little use for providing warmth, he slowly makes progress across the snow laden compound. The wind fires needles of pain into his face. The things would be returning soon. The scientists haven’t given the things a name yet, they have been too busy trying to stay alive. All they know is the things will be back, and there will be more death…

That’s the scenario in which Swedish space rockers Yuri Gagarin pitch us headlong into with the brutal ‘Cluster Of Minds’. It’s a blizzard of ice-cold guitars so rough and piercing you can feel the frostbite. It’s a cold, dark universe…

Confession time, this listener found the band S/T debut album a tad frustrating, considering the mix a little underpowered for space rock, a little static for rapture. Here however, on their new album At The Centre Of All Infinity, the needles are in the red; the drums are battering, the guitars blistering. Proceedings verge close to being metal but the heart is pure space rock; where groove is never sacrificed.

yuri gagarin

Opener ‘The New Order’ sounds like jet-stream Hawkwind fucked to the gills on good shit. Sounding like rampaging Mastodons on the loose, swarming through a boiling river of mud, this’ll get the blood pumping and the neighbours banging on the walls.

‘In The Abyss’ sounds exactly how you think it does, black molten furies of guitars, demonic spirals of noise and blunderbuss drumming.

‘I See No God Here’ provides succour from the storm; a Tangerine Dream style pastoral sashay into ambience.

The title track is another example of where Yuri Gagarin should appeal to fans of both metal/stoner and space rock leanings. Blocks of noise so tectonic should not be so fleet-footed…

‘Oblivion’ sees the reign of paranoia guitar careen uncontrollably past safety limits, this is subterranean machinery gone haywire as the world collapses around us… who knows how it will all end??

The album is a godless block of rampaging noise; angry and unyielding, but pulsing along on a liquid skeleton that makes for an electrifying listen.

https://yurigagarinswe.bandcamp.com

Interview – Radar Men From The Moon

Dutch masters of space rock Radar Men From The Moon have just released their new album, Subversive I, in which they infuse their sound with glorious swathes of dance music. In September they wowed the Liverpool Psych Fest. In short, they are flying high…

Colourhorizon was lucky to catch up with RMFTM to pose them a few questions. Here is what we learnt…

Click to listen to Subversive I

So, tell us abut the new album!
(Glenn) Subversive 1 is the first installment of a triptych of albums. With these releases we try to explore the boundaries within our own RMFTM context in all it’s abstract generality. We named it Subversive because we intend to subvert an established order, the RMFTM order, the RMFTM context. Questioning ourselves as a group is a part of our practice. This first one is played and recorded by the RMFTM core members, but to open up our process we’d like to invite different musicians and artists to contribute to the second and third part of the Subversive triptych, and even to our live-sets. It keeps us fresh. We are very interested and focused on ideas of rhythm, repetition and minimalism. You will hear it on this first part of Subversive and it will evolve in the two parts to come.

Are you fans of 1950s sci-fi B movies or is Radar Men From The Moon just a name? Also, will you start using the vocal samples again?
(Glenn) We’re not specifically fans of sci-fi B Movies per se. We just took the name out of a big list that sounded kinda absurd. Nowadays we like to pronounce the band as RMFTM. Because we think the group/music is more of an entity on its own. We want to refer and relate to ourselves, not to something outside. That’s also why we don’t use samples from movies anymore. Sure you get influenced by the things you see or hear but we try to keep some autonomous space within the band.

How have RMFTM progressed?
(Glenn) In the beginning especially our first releases were more riff-based. But we started to experiment more with sounds and ideas, and now with our recent album Subversive 1 we have a more minimalist approach and definitely more of a noisy/industrial sound.

With so much psych around nowadays, how difficult is it to stand out?
(Glenn) We really don’t think too much about that, we rather focus on our own music or visual aesthetic. We have a DIY-mindset since the beginning of the band, so we always work on our own network. that’s something to us that makes it more personal and sincere.

All your albums are available for free – can you tell us about the reasons behind this and how it affects running the band…
(Tony) Quite frankly, most music is available for free on the internet. Personally I listen to a lot of music on youtube or spotify for instance. Bandcamp specifically is just a great way for us to have a channel that supports free donations really, and we see many people actually paying for our albums via the pay what you want system. You see, it’s all about the perceptional value of music, which can be different per individual. This doesn’t affect us running the band as a company, because we never had the illusion of actually making a living off this. The internet is a great way to get our music out there, and if people like it they will buy it somehow anyway, be it digital or physical.

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How do you maintain an album a year release rate?
(Tony) We’d like to do more per year actually, being all prolific and that. We just love to produce new music, that’s our thing. I mean theoretically we could start all kinds of different side projects to cover that up, which would be kind off silly I guess. Anyway, once we’ve released something we get bored with it quite fast. We usually start working on new stuff right after something is released, or even before that. Subversive II is already finished in our minds!

For those interested in the technical side of things; what guitars and pedals do you use?
(Glenn) I use some different Fenders in the studio. Live mostly a Fender Jazzmaster or a Mustang and lot’s of different pedals. I have more of an interest in sounds then playing the guitar very technical. My guitar playing is very much influenced by bands like: Sonic Youth, (early) Swans, Glenn Branca, Killing Joke, Cocteau twins and Throbbing Gristle

Did you enjoy the Liverpool Psych Fest?
(Tony) Yes! We’ve never been there before and we had a blast. Enjoyed some great bands and had a great time hanging out with old and new friends.

Which bands would you recommend to people?
(Tony) Oh man I don’t know, there are a lot of great bands out there. Depends on the mood I guess. Right now I’m listening to ‘Bitchin Bajas’, tomorrow I could be listening to ‘Wolf Eyes’.

A friend of mine caught your set with The Cosmic Dead in Eindhoven. She claimed it was mind-blowing! How did that come about?
(Tony) Well we help curate Eindhoven psych lab every year, and last year we were asked to do something special at the festival. So we invited our friends from The Cosmic Dead over to our studio for a couple of days and worked on a collaborative set; hit,quit,rave,repeat. We ended up creating one ‘song’ of about 40 mins that followed the context of the title, it was a really great time and we had so much fun creating and performing it with TCD. We might just do something like this again in the future 😉

So… what next?
Well, as I said, work has begun on part two of Subversive. I’m going to finish my coffee and head over to RMFTM headquarters with Glenn. We’ll be over in the UK again in a few weeks for two shows. Nov 12th with CAMERA at the Golden Lion in Todmorden and Nov 14th at Fuzz Club festival at London fields brewery.

Listen – and buy! – all 4 RMFTM albums right here…

https://radarmenfromthemoon.bandcamp.com

Radar Men From The Moon – Subversive I (2015)

Step right in! Who wants to go to the Space-Rock discotheque? It’s 3 Jager bombs for a fiver and the tunes are banging!

rmftm

The Dutch masters of space-rock, Radar Men From The Moon are back with a 4th album, Subversive I and as soon as the needle drops the blood is fizzing in your veins…

What is immediately striking about ‘Deconstruction’ is just how crisp, immediate and energetic the drums are. This is bold new territory for the Radar Men, moving away from the huge slabs of riffs of their first album and the abstract cut out shapes of their last album, Strange Wave Galore. With a bold side-stepping of the necessity to paint huge swathes of stately noise, Radar Men are forcing through with an energising space-dance. The whole thing flexes and glides like a stingray. Throbs of sound flare while quicksilver guitar shoots lightning bolts. ‘Deconstruction’ shines the light on a new direction for the band, one that will get people dancing.

Click to listen to ‘Deconstruction’… and the rest of the album too…

The harsh clanking of a metal gantry powers ‘Habitual’. The drums lurch like hunting dogs on the prowl. The giddy, rolling fluidity of the rhythm section induces motion sickness. The song’s porcupine riff is so insistent that hypnosis must surely follow. For one glorious final minute everything comes together perfectly in telepathic union and the needles hit the red for an adrenaline fuelled party.

‘Neon’ twitches under formless noise until a curious mechanical fluttering takes over and does,well, nothing for well over 2 minutes. On other albums this is normally welcomed but RMFTM have built such a head of steam over the first half of the album, the presence of this bowl of ambient noodles merely disrupts the good time that everyone was having, like a surly bouncer. Luckily after 4 minutes normal service is resumed with a block shaking groove. Another sky-high line of dynamite guitar ramps up the pressure and pokes needles in the brain. Past 9 minutes and a sparking piece of guitar ephemera dances.

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‘Hacienda’ weighs in with thundering, violent bass, like a gorilla tumbling down a spiral staircase. Industrial machinery vibes as elements are systemically used: slabs of noise are switched on and off.

The guitars sliced over this album are remarkable: they reach Joy Division levels of paranoia inducing, soul shredding violence. What’s worth wondering is how much of this album is actually space rock? The groove is vibrant and febrile, the top end giving way to moments of gleeful abandon. At times the album is damn near hedonistic. Post-punk dance music then?

Ah… who cares… this is the Space-Rock Discotheque! Have fun! Get the drinks in! Everyone’s invited!

https://radarmenfromthemoon.bandcamp.com

Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain (2015)

Over their last two albums, Dead Sea Apes have journeyed from the icy wastes of Lupus to the  rigidity of Higher Evolutionary. There is a path which leads to track 6 on the latter, ‘Regolith’ in which Dead Sea Apes finally submit to groove. The emergence of heavier, solid sounds and the shoring up of the rhythm section makes for a satisfying ‘story arc’ that I previously compared to the changing of styles from Ridley Scott’s Alien to James Cameron’s Aliens. It has been with interest that I have awaited the next release to see where the story would head next. From arty horror to bristling vitality… What next?

dead sea apes

‘Universal Interrogator’ slips off with clattering drums – the beat to quarters of a warship ready for battle. Ominous and potent, the sense of oncoming dread is palpable. The rhythm section of Nick Harris and Chris Hardman has travelled far, where they once sketched desolation on Lupus they now pitch the broiling waves of a relentless tempest. Action descends as Brett Savage’s guitar offers chaos and occasional flashes of cannon fire.

‘True Believers’ slows the pace after the battering opener, but does have slithering, venomous guitars. Bass is insisting, drums ghostly. Throwing the spotlight on Brett, the song has a ritualistic, ceremonial feel.

‘The Unclosing Eye’ brings us back to the rough and tumble where the album began; swashbuckling drums and jaunty guitar.

‘Brought To Life’ buzzes with horror, closer to previous evil Dead Sea Apes vibes. Industrial estates, serial killers, gaffer tape.

Maybe the biggest surprise comes last with ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ as Nick’s bass ventures near to dub and Chris’ drums follow suit. The track is oddly reminiscent of Alternative TVs ‘Love Lies Limp’. Brett uses an Arturia Microbrute on this track for a further spreading of the wings. A death rattle sounds here and there as disaster looms. Dead Sea Apes, they’re from Stalybridge and they’re irie, man. Apparently.

Instead of taking us to Alien 3, Dead Sea Apes have instead opted for Nordic noir, yet remain alive to the opportunity of high adventure where the mist breeds monsters…

Listen (and buy!) here… https://deadseaapes.bandcamp.com/album/spectral-domain

Underlords Take Acid – Underlords take Acid (2015)

Straddling space rock and really good drugs are Underlords Take Acid.

Culled from 11 hours of improv comes their self titled album. It’s as raw, dirty and filthy as foxes shagging in an industrial estate in Kettering. It’s positively disgusting.

underlords

‘Spaceman is the Place, Man’ starts the album committed to heavy groove and ritualised head music. From the traps UTA knuckle down for fun and power up for hedonism. Over the course of 7 minutes the song slows and grows muddier, trudging drums as the guitar slides into shapelessness.

The second track I avoid. It’s all a bit metal screamy. The track is called ‘Scream a Lil Dream’ so I can’t say I wasn’t warned. If you like this kinda thing, fair play.

‘The Way Down’ shrieks Goat style tribalism with the Birthday Party’s death rattle of rock ‘n’ roll.

‘Nite Time Rite Time’ chugs along with a demonic hoover boogie.

‘Gone City Gone’ takes it even deeper til the foundations are quaking. Then paranoia guitar ushers in the spectral remains of Hawkwind.

‘Want Some More’. I bet. Synths wail righteous indignation as vocals disintegrate into spewed thought bubbles.

‘Coda 4 Cuda’… well let’s just keep that one surprise…

All in all: gloopy bass, shamanic vocals, stabby guitar and bad vibes that make Acid Mothers Temple look like Coldplay down the spa.

Original it ain’t but if you dig The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons and want something similarly wild, sexy and fucked up, than Underlords Take Acid should get you cosmic.

The album? Great. But shit, I wanna see these fuckers live…

Have a play and maybe a purchase…

 http://digital.eolianempire.com/album/underlords-take-acid

Caudal – Ascension (2014)

As we all know, the hardest substance known to man is groove. Berlin band Caudal build their colossal mountain of sound on a groove so vast and steel reinforced you would need dynamite by the tonne to stop them in their tracks.

Over 40 minutes long but consisting just 3 tracks, Caudal’s album Ascension lives up to its name, taking the listener higher and higher into a realm of total submission.

caudal cover

Let’s start with ‘Uprise’ (click to listen) …

Imagine Joy Division’s ‘Shadowplay’ boiled down to a groove then served with a gusto that makes Hawkwind look like daisy pickin’ hippies.

The bass is surprisingly subtle and mellow; it soothes as it much as it slams. Yet the unrelenting charge of the groove is irresistible. The guitar offers chiming, sharp signals; not riffs but carefully balanced transmissions.

Past 8 minutes and the groove is beginning to wane, struggling to maintain momentum as the guitar takes control with waves of effects; shimmering and colliding, strobing, power overload. At 10 minutes, dreamy desolation. Shoegaze torpor. From a Slowdive swirl, jazzy drums operate on the periphery. We’re adrift, no sign of an end. Then, past 14 minutes… bass is spotted, offering succour and providing a course to pastures new. Slowly the guitar regains its strength and grows again; it’s simplicity providing yet more power to the rejuvenated bottom end.

‘Slow Bow’ is a bit more sunshine and love. Taking its cues from the ambient end (i.e. the Brian Eno end) of krautrock. a fragile jangling guitar takes the lead, not a million miles away from a ketamine version of the guitar on Crowded House’s ‘Weather With You’ (no, seriously). There’s also a plaintiff hint of The Durutti Column and the pagan psych of The Blue Orchids.

Constantly dissolving and nebulous; all manner of wafting oddities drop by for your attention. In some respects, the album shares some qualities with the soundtrack to the movie Master & Commander, where classical bombast meets forlorn listlessness. The mysterious noises presented by the guitar and it’s pedal board grown and grow until all that remains is a miasma; trying to discern identifiable shapes in a blizzard of static.

‘451S2’ continues the album’s jellyfish-like journey until life returns.  Drums kick back in with a clattering 4/4, the bass is deep and thudding, hard and chunky as earthenware. This tracks clocks in at under 6 minutes. rather a paltry amount considering the length of its brother tracks, making this more of an outro piece.

Caudal have a F1 engine where a rhythm section should be. Combining the power and dynamism of space rock with the sleek fluidity of motorik, this is everything a growing boy needs.

A remarkable journey through space. Purchase your ticket immediately.

Mugstar / Damo Suzuki – Start From Zero (2015)

Mugstar have won. All other psych bands should just go home. Why? Because Mugstar have recorded an album with Damo Suzuki…

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It is titled Start From Zero and consists four tracks. Let’s have a look…

“Waken To The Night’ starts the album with the clanking, grinding machinery of noise that we have come to know and love from Mugstar, like the internal workings of Metal Gear Rex (colouhorizon is never, ever above a 1990s Playstation reference). It’s a furious Hawkwind meets the Duracell Bunny rhythm; relentless energy. Damo streams words against this backdrop and it is fascinating to hear him against a more vigorous musical backdrop than he had with CAN, yet the near drum solo past 6 minutes shows that Mugstar come from the same lineage as the krautrock overlords. The words come as thick and fast as the music, making for a white knuckle 13 minutes.

The mysterious foreboding of ‘Subway Sounds’ imagines Closer era Joy Division providing the music for a Nordic crime show. The bass; ten ton footfalls of a stone-spawned monster on the prowl. Glinting shards of ambient shine through an oozing atmosphere. At 4 minutes this is far too fleeting a treat.

‘Innanewah’ rumbles with along like a psychotic, malevolent hoover. Scratchy guitar solidifies here and there. Damo’s vocals are right on the money, no idea what he is singing but he is in commanding position and his interplay with Mugstar’s brand of straight lined space rock is exhilarating. Throughout the album he sounds as invigorated by Mugstar as the Liverpool band sound inspired.

‘Zero Coda’ (click to listen) is sharp edges and frisky beats all the way. Mugstar’s strength is bringing giddy abandon to their music and this encapsulates that perfectly, the music here is as joyous as eating jelly on a bouncy castle. This moulds Damo’s words into an effervescent, fevered day-dream. Wonderfully, his delivery reaches ‘Halleluhwah’ levels of transcendence. By the way, ‘Zero Coda’ goes on for 22 minutes, so yes, the spirit of CAN is alive and well… Travelling deeper and deeper into this epic, the music flows and punches sharper and harder with Damo becoming increasingly possessed and hypnotic. An emblem of enraptured; his shamanic delivery elevates the music further. Together they build a psych feedback loop.

Mugstar and Damo Suzuki? Does this count as Christmas and birthday present combined?

Krautrock legend meets psych royalty to herald a future age… essential.