About 50 years ago there was something happening in Germany that would enhance the landscape of music for 3 & 1/2 generations to come. This would affectionately known as Krautrock. This was a more subtle minimal approach to progressive rock unlike the over the top progressive rock coming from the UK at the time. Bands such as Amon Duul ii , The Can, Popol Vuhl and Kraftwerk to name a few believed that a less and more eccentric approach was more. Due to the post World War 2 bitterness krautrock would be rejected on UK soil. Therefore the bands from Germany bypassed the UK and sought audience in America.
5600 miles to the west in San Francisco California another less is more approach was happening within its own music scene. This approach was a more drug induced, mind expansive that would be called Psychedelic, Acid or Stoner rock. Bands like The Greatful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, JanisJoplin and Crosby, Stills and Nash were on the forefront of this revolution of music.
Come now to 2016. It is as if the Krautrock of Germany and the Psychedelic/Acid rock of San Francisco had ‘Melodic Intercourse’ and created a all new sub genre within progressive and psychedelic music. This new music would have all the elements of both scenes as well as a more free form improvisional sound that is not as pre conceived nor written ahead of time. One of the many multiple offspring that both scenes of music produced was current German progressive/psychedelic rockers The Spacelords.
The Spacelords Liquid Sun embodies a little bit of every element of the two music scenes mentioned above along with their own improvised and free form approach to the music itself. Although only 3 songs and a total album length of 33+ minutes long, The Spacelords Liquid Sun gives the listener a sonic sense of a full one hour of listening bliss. Within the 33+ minutes we find long improvised yet tight rhytymic sections with layer upon layers of intergalatic soundscapes and atmospheres. Now a brief yet detailed look at The Spacelords Liquid Sun.
Liquid Sun begins with a gentle and subtle percussive element with the cymbals from the drums. That element is quickly met by the tight rhythm section between the deep bass and rhytym guitar. This is a more progressive track meaning it starts out very subtle and climbs in various up and down tempo progressions and passages. At some points it sounds like a cross between Earthless meets Buckethead meets Oresund Space Collective. About the 3:00 mark it takes a heavily space rock approach within the track. At about the 6:00 mark the track takes a very 1970’s stoner rock turn. At the 7:00 mark it takes a highly and perfectly surround sound approach as if to give the listener an appearance of some alien contact. The final 4:00 the track is a very traditional psychedelic/stoner track that contains heavy progressive time signatures towards a climax.
Spaceship Breakdown starts off almost in the vein of very early ZZTop Tres Hombres’ passage of progression. It may give the listener an appearance of 4/4 however there is much more like a 5/4 and 7/8 time signature going on here. There also seems to be some various spaceship micro processing effects happening in the back drop. This track always breaks back to the same progression before taking a sonic ascension towards a climatic riff and passage. Spaceship Breakdown also has some very tight rhythm based guitar solo’s. This is a type of track if you had a intergalactic convertable going through the concourse of space and time you may hear this. Many of the space effects are wonderfully performed on a mellotron synth organ.
Black Hole starts out with a lot of guitar fret work making more effects as it goes and balancing them well with melody. It has a very eerie yet liquid and subtle vibe about it. This is met by a perfectly complimented deep bass and drum rhythm section. At about the 4:00 mark the band really settles in for a lengthy jam session. The passages and progressions off the riffs continue to climb with great continuity. For a 21:10 improvised track the band really picks up one another’s changes really spot on. There continues to be surround sound style soundscapes and effects. The track evens takes some serious down tuned stoner style elements as well. At some points this takes a very stoner metal turn. If you like long progressive free form improvised jam songs than Black Hole is perfect for your audio pallet.
The Spacelords Liquid Sun was a true adventure. It is definitely one of those albums the band can certainly build their legacy upon. They can convey the true nature of the goal they set without totally overwhelming the listener. Liquid Sun will be a album that will celebrated a few generations from now much like the Krautrock of Germany and Psychedelic rock of San Francisco is now. This is my first 5/5 for 2016.
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HRH Prog IX is all about legends – which don’t come any bigger than Yes keyboard wizard – songwriter – producer – TV and radio presenter and author Rick Wakeman! With over 90 solo albums to his name, Rick continues to lead the way in British prog, having released his latest creation “Piano Odyssey” in 2018.
We are humbly honoured to welcome such a genuine rock icon to HRH Prog IX and Rick is bringing his full band to the two venues next March – the O2 Academy in Sheffield and the prestigious Shepherds Bush Empire in London – so expect a set brim-full of music from a career spanning 6 decades plus perhaps progressive takes on a rock classic or two. We honestly can’t wait for this.
The second headliner is none other than Mr. Hawkwind himself – Dave Brock. This “Audience With” set delves into a vault of music and stories we can only describe as “Brockworld”. From the busking and banter from the dawn of Hawkwind to playing some gems from his 6 solo albums, which have never really seen a live audience to moving into unchartered Hawkwind territory, this is a must for all true Hawkwind & Prog fans alike.
As if two legends of rock aren’t enough – two more huge names in prog are heading to HRH Prog IX. We have John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest who are continuing to carry the torch for the band that released no less than 10 albums in the 1970s, featuring the trademark Mellotron keyboard sound beloved of many a progressive rock fan.
Focus fly in from Holland to join us next March. Best known of course for their 1971 hit “Hocus Pocus”, the guys are still very much active having released their latest album “Focus 11” earlier this year to critical acclaim.
All the way from Lithuania, and making a return to HRH Prog, are The Skys. Having released their latest – and brilliant – album “Automatic Minds” just a few weeks ago we can’t wait to see Jonas and the guys again.
Also announced for HRH Prog IX are German’s The Spacelords who bring their wonderful space rock set to London and Sheffield. Nth Ascension have caught the prog community’s attention with their latest album “Stranger Than Fiction” released this May and we can’t wait to welcome them to the HRH family. French-based Franck Carducci makes his HRH Prog debut – and lists Pink Floyd, Genesis and Supertramp amongst his influences – perfect for us! Bram Stoker are having a resurgence having been best known for their 1972 prog epic “Heavy Rock Spectacular”. The Room will feature their new line-up – currently making waves with their latest release “Caught by the Machine.” Cambridge based psych-space rockers Psychic Lemon round out the incredible line-up for HRH Prog IX.
HRH Prog 8 at Shepherds Bush Empire Sold out in 4 weeks and Sheffield in 4 months after it was added. The 9th voyage is live and unleashed – jump onboard quick if you want to take full advantage of the Early Bird rates, Hotel Packages which include Royalty & VIP passes and the ever-popular Royalty passes which disappear like gold dust very early.
Last year when I reviewed Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams, I knew that this German trio would be a band I would review again here at Power Of Prog. Cosmic Fall are certainly a true reason that much of the fuzzy oriented progressive/psychedelic/stoner rock did not die in the 1970’s. This brand of rock just continued on a ongoing everlasting metamorphosis that is not only still relevant today but it is thriving like a volcanic caldera waiting for the right time to explode within the progressive/psychedelic/stoner rock communities. It is due to this ground swell and underground demand for such genre of progressive/psychedelic/stoner rock that this is my third review this year concerning it along with Bla Lotus Tube Alloy’s and Mother Engine Hangar.
Their previous album Cosmic Fall’s Kick Ot The Jams saw the band produce a more atmospheric/progressive/psychedelic album with much longer tracks that had that album clocking in at 90 minutes. As with their contemporaries such as Earthless, Samsara Blues Experiment, Electric Moon, The Spacelords, Murky Red, etc, Cosmic Fall are another band of this genre who bring something different to the table with every new effort and In Search Of Outer Spaceis a brilliant display and testament to this. Plus due to changes between albums it makes for a very diverse live set in concert.
Jabberwocky opens up with a huge straight away fuzzy stoner chord progression. This is perfectly matched by the deep thunderous rhythm exchange between the bass and drums. Soon it is joined by a trippy psychedelic vocal. The track takes on a vast atmospheric chord progression with the brilliant work of Marcin Morawski – Guitar, on the guitar. About the 4:00 mark the track takes a bit of a drop where the bands more atmospheric side of various isolated chord progression or rhythm sections are more front and center displaying their individual genius. From the 4:00 mark to the end of the track the band offer a delightful buffet of various psychedelic/stoner passages anchored by progressive minded riffs.
Narcotic Vortex opens up with a very profound intense rhythmic exchange between the bass and drums. This is also done sointense to produce a deeper level of that beloved stoner fuzzy sound that Cosmic Fall are known for. The guitar enters in the equation providing a lot of direction and purpose within the beautiful deep intense rhythm section. The very depth to the rhythm section borders towards ‘Doom Metal’ and is like a Kyuss, Candlemass and Black Sabbath on steroids. At the 1:20 mark the track drops where the drums work as a melodic percussive instrument allowing layers of both bass and guitar to begin to build towards a up tempo towards a melodic mesa. Daniel Sax – Drums uses the actual rim of the drum head to form a very unique off time signature to perfectly compliment the rhythmic work from the bass and guitar. Marcin Morawski – Guitar has a brilliant way of playing a various time signature exchange between both rhythm and lead guitar where some chord progressions feel like a keyboard may be involved however is not. This is also one of the more atmospheric yet bizarre tracks on the album allowing for a very strange and intricate chord progressions to usher in a kick ass drum solo towards the end of the track.
Purification opens up subtly with a very atmospheric element created the drum cymbals. The bass continues and adds a very brooding and moody layer to the intro to the track. This track also reveals the true method to the madness that is Cosmic Fall. The way the band takes this 4+ minute track that appears to be a bit simple yet brought together in a complex throughout provoking song is incredible. This is soon followed up by a very 1970’s stoner-acid semi bluesy rock atmospheric guitar that completely peels back the various layers that are to come in the track. The track begins a upwards climb through various melodious twists and turns. This is one of those songs on the album that really allow the listener to absorb the whole album experience.
Lumberjam opens up with heavy drum work that serves as the perfect anchor for the remaining rhythmic bass and a all out guitar riff frenzy. Lumberjam is definitely the perfect title for this song. The band definitely take no prisoners laying down a all out psychedelia of various thunderous riffs and rhythmic bliss. About the 1:30 mark the guitar takes on more lead character and depth allowing for the rhythm section to provide a atmosphere where the lead portion of the guitar to sound a bit more upfront and center. This also carries some light doom metal elements especially with the fuzzy rhythm section. The guitar solos are varied and very often throughout this song.
Spacejam opens up with a classic psychedelic and very trippy effect which the band are very known for to their fan base. Think Frank Zappa meets Earthless meets Oresund Space Collective. This effect actual gives the listener the appearance they are somewhere in space and have been recording aa track just in case they meet any alien race and/or lifeforms on their journey. Following the psychedelic effect the bass comes in very isolated with the character of intrigue and mischief. The band certainly are not shy of incorporating old school vintage yet proven psychedelic chord progressions and percussion’s mixed in with modern melodic special effects. Spacejam proves this true on the album. This is definitely a track I would consider mixing in 5.1 surround sound to amplify and enhance the auditory senses of the listener. The band has a very unique ability to isolate every instrument involved rendering all of them to be enjoyed individually while still maintaining a collective harmonious balance with all of them.
Icarus starts of very Sabbath,The Re-Stoned,Murky Red, and The Spacelords in its nature. The doom metal like elements are there and the stoner rock elements are all there. The opening is a very kick ass straight up psychedelic fuzzy style passage. This track sounds like the band went into the studio as a collective unit, plugged in to the amps and mic’ed up the drums and just went after it with a classic non premeditated improvised mindset. The track takes on various progressive style patterns with a very up tempo intro followed by a a very mellowed psychedelic middle. This is the second and last track with lyrics in it. The lyrical content is a various mixture of a space rock, stoner heavy psychedelic nature. With this being the final song on the album the band go out with a big robust sound of all the elements they are known for.
Cosmic Fall may not be the first band to put all the progressive/psychedelic/stoner rock elements together in a pioneering spirit , but they are certainly on the vanguard of the next generation of bands that will carrying this further into the future. The band also are developing a great body of work to present to the world both with albums and live sets. Depending how the band go from here they could be talked about 20 to 30 years from now. Much like Kick Out The Jams in 2017 making my year end list in the top 10 do not be surprised that Cosmic Fall’s In Search Of Outer Space does the same thing. I give Cosmic Fall’s In Search Of Outer Space a 5/5 for sheer consistency.