Finally the third and final list in the Album Of Year 2017 series has come to its completion. This was probably the absolute toughest list to compile. Due to the very tough nature of this list, I decided to sit on it a month before release it here at Power Of Prog . Another reason these sorts of lists are becoming tougher with every passing year is due to the immense volume of music out there. There seems to be too much music out there with the advancement of technology through social media. Therefore due to all these factors it is become more challenging to compile these lists. Thank you all who joined in for the Top 10 Album Of Year 2017 Melodic Hard Rock/ Melodic Metal/ AORlist and Top 10 Progressive Metal Album Of Year 2017.
Whatever fell from the cosmic sky, it landed in our home town Berlin. And is ready to take your mind on a beautiful journey. Bringing Earthless-level Heavy Psych into the local scene! Taking you into the endless universe, the lonely desert and the depth of the ocean as relaxing sounds and moody melodies will go along with you on this journey. Do you smell it? It’s time for another take off !
To understand a band like Germany’s Cosmic Fall in the present, we must take a journey to Germany’s ‘Krautrock’ past. The very definition to ‘Krautrock’ is ‘Cosmic-Rock’, very contrary to how it was labeled in the United Kingdom. The term “krautrock” was originated by English-speaking music journalists as a humorous name for a diverse range of German bands whose music drew from sources such as psychedelic rock, the avant-garde, electronic music, funk, minimalism, jazz improvisation, and world music styles. You could say that ‘Krautrock’ had a wild west mentality with a broad and vast range of experimentation. Largely divorced from the traditional blues and rock and roll influences of British and American rock music up to that time, the period contributed to the evolution of electronic music and ambient music as well as the birth of psychedelic improvised long form jam band rock, post-punk, alternative rock and New Age music. Important acts of the scene include Amon Dull ii, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and Faust.
Cosmic Fall definitely falls in line with this rich tradition of improvised jam band songs that are practically played out more than a premeditated write, record, produce process. This form of progressive/psychedelic rock depends more on all the sum of the parts of the instruments to produce a unified wall of sound instead of the instruments coming in off the hands of virtuoso’s with intricate interchanges in time signatures. It allows for every instrument to both breathe and be heard allowing the listener to decide how they will absorb and digest the individual compositions. In modern time bands like Cosmic Fall, Oresund Space Collective, Earthless, Pharaoh Overlord, Hydria Spacefolk, to name a few have really opened up different dimensions of progressive/psychedelic rock that have not recently been tapped until now.
Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams is a bold and ambitious follow up to their debut album First Fall released back in 2016. Although the band were gracious enough to send me the physical CD copy I am reviewing the Digital Bandcamp Edition with the extra track Purple Weed. Kick Out The Jams Digital Bandcamp Edition contains 3 more mind expansive tracks over their debut First Fall taking the album to just about 90 minutes. Keep in mind Cosmic Fall are only a three man unit but this does not deduct from the vast huge wall of sound they are capable of. Now allow me to analyze this vast expanse of music track by track.
Saturn Highway is a monster 19+ minute epic that opens the album gracefully. This track immediately paints a picture that the listener is experiencing space travel on a deep interstellar level. The guitar opens it with a very heavy 1970’s psychedelic chord progression on the lead and the drums and fuzzy stoner style bass come in and pick up the rhythm off the guitar lead. The guitar also serves in a heavily atmospheric induced capacity during this time. The band already displays in uncanny prowess to add layers upon layers with the instruments at their dispose. Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a intricate knowledge of guitar pedals and the various sounds they make possible. The same can be said for Klaus Fredrich – Bass. Their effective work on the bass and guitar pedals allow for the track to move forward creating a wall of various progressive and psychedelic atmospheric layers.
Daniel Sax – Drums really has a very flexible vibe about him top adjust to the various chord progressions from the bass and guitars. At about the 8:50 mark the entire composition takes on a strong interstellar echo as if the journey into space gets deeper and deeper to where it takes a subtle break. About the 11:11 mark the track starts to build again with layers upon layers. There is a brilliant isolation with the drum beats and soon the fuzzy style stoner bass comes into compliment the drums. The remainder of the track remains on point towards their objective of quality improvised psychedelic space rock with some heavy elements.
White Stone opens up with a very heavy psychedelic progressive passage that is more rooted within 1960’s style psychedelic rock. The track is very up tempo with plenty of well crafted fuzzy rhythm based guitar and bass. The drums completely carry the vast up tempo that the guitar and bass set up quite eloquently. About the 3:02 mark the track begins to taper off peeling back the layers towards a subtle finishing passage.
Earthfull This is another lengthy epic and longest song on Kick Out The Jams clocking in at 21+ minutes. It begins with a very deep bass drum complimented perfectly by a deeply down tuned bass drum and bass rhythm section. The guitar comes in more as a lead again running congruent with the deep rhythm section. The opening minute reminds me heavily of the band Earthless’ Sonic Prayer from 2007’s Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky.
The chord progressions on the guitar are also a very heavy 1960’s influenced progression in the vein of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane meets Robby Kreiger from The Doors.Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a very intricate knowledge and ability to use both guitar pedals and a wammy bar to produce the maximum sound distribution with minimal energy. The bass/drum rhythm section give the listener the appearance of a well choreographed dance between the fingers on the bass fret board and the tom tom, hi hat, snare combinations the drums continue to experiment with. This track has some serious stoner rock fuzzy passages throughout it. From a free flow improvised perspective this track has heavy Earthless and Oresund Space Collective influence all over it. About the 10:00 mark the track starts to take a more Lo-Fi minimalist approach very much in the spirit of Can, Popol Vuh and Faust from ‘Krautrock’s’ past. Cosmic Fall are not shy on full experimentation which makes for a very unique listening experience. At about the 14:40 mark the band allows the ‘objective listener’ a strong sense in floating into deep interstellar space. It also allows breathing room for the listener to digest the epic before picking back up again at the 16:00 mark where the band takes a more heavy prog approach.
Purple Weed is the bonus track on the ‘digital version only’of Kick Out The Jams which is what I am using for this review. It starts out like it is a cut away from another song. It opens more with a bridge style passage instead of a traditional genesis where they star off simple and proceed to build layers upon layers. The opening also captures the band in a more straight away psychedelic rock passage. This track does break and takes on another direction around the 2:30 mark allowing for the listener the choice to breath and digest or be alert and anticipate. Cosmic Fall have a unique and distinctive way of allowing the listener a choice of how they want to experience the music. The ambiguous jester within is very on point with the music as well.
Interstellar Junction in a strange backhanded way is probably the bands ‘most’ tangible track to attract people that are new to the band and their genre of progressive/psychedelic rock. It starts very up tempo with straight away 1970’s stoner/psychedelic chord progressions. Think Amon Dull ii meets Can meets Vanilla Fudge. The passages are very heavily progressive laden with various psychedelic atmospheres. This one is also recorded and performed live and is one of two on the album. This track also gives the listener the impression that there are two distinctive personalities on the album. Those personalities being of course, psychedelic and progressive. The last three tracks are more progressive/stoner hard rock than the previous four which are more experimental.
Stairway Jam starts out with a very seriously deep down tuned bass. Soon the methodical and sometimes off timed drums come in and start building a very organic rhythm section. Within that rhythm section and its progressive thunder comes the guitar that is allowed to breathe and take a more front and center approach, allowing the rhythm section of the bass/drums to lead it into various layers and dimensions. This jam takes on some very very heavy fuzzy chord progressions like those from the late 1960’s to middle 1970’s when psychedelic rock carried some heavier doom style elements. In the middle the rhythm section takes a more laid back approach and the guitar is allowed to take the listener on a strange , yet genius, cosmic journey towards the inner-space of the mind of the audience.
Cosmic Conclusion starts out with some seriously heavy hi-hat to tom – tom back to hi-hat drum blast beats. The drums immediately start out more in the aesthetic of doom metal in a very odd progressive kind of way. They literally even take the bass and make it initially as a percussive instrument until they both balance out with a more melodic rhythm section. The bass/drum rhythm section elegantly produce such a thunderous wall of sound that if envelopes the fullness of senses within the listeners audio pallet. For the most part this is a straight away heavy progressive/psychedelic track.
With the rich progressive rock and psychedelic rock heritage from Germany, Cosmic Fall has managed to create their own unique and distinctive sound that separates them from other bands of the genres. They maintain a creative minimalist sound while allowing the fullness of the instruments speak for itself. Kick Out The Jams certainly will give the band a ever growing fan-base while giving the band a much fuller live set. I give Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams a 5/5for integrity to the genre.
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