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torstai 19. lokakuuta 2017

Nathan Hall And The Sinister Locals ‎– The Volga Sturgeon Face E​.​P.

The Hip Replacement Label (Hip 014)

Happy news for all those who have been wondering what ever happened to the Soft Hearted Scientists. After releasing seven albums they are just taking a year off. In the meantime, their front man Nathan Hall has of course not been able to just lay back and rest. Amazing songs just seem to pour out of his mind so he formed a new "band" called Nathan Hall And The Sinister Locals. This is actually more or less Nathan's solo project with various, changing characters on drums, bass, string arrangements etc. This first release is a four track CD EP and if you were fast enough, you might have scored it with an accompanying two-track 5" lathe cut limited to just 100 copies. This version also included a facsimile lyric sheet for the track "Everyone's Burning Effigies" and a postcard, both signed. I'm still kicking myself for not being fast enough in May... But since the CD EP itself is still available, let's go on.

Musically Nathan Hall And The Sinister Locals sounds very close to baroque, gentle psychedelia of Soft Hearted Scientists. The vibe is perhaps (even) a bit more home-grown and intimate. This debut EP includes five tracks and I love them all. The opener "Everybody's Burning Effigies" starts off with some psychy space sounds and then a melodic, uplifting going takes you away. Like always, Nathan is capable to get you hooked with his simple yet very catchy melodies and ideas. I really like the instrumentation/orchestration as well. A perfect three-minute pop rock piece. "Song for the Flowers" is a bit more melancholic and even a bit eerie but totally wonderful song that makes you close your eyes and hum along with the harmonies. One of those two-chord wonders that hount you in your dreams. "Like a Setting Sun" has great finger-picked acoustic guitar, beautiful vocals, celestial orchestration and a hypnotic beat. Amazing! The EP is finished with the pretty, folky and baroque "Catacomes of Camden Town". I like the sort of philosophical, nostalgic/realistic lyrics on this one. I got to say I enjoy this brilliant EP really much and can only hope that these tracks will see a vinyl release soon. A full-lenght Nathan Hall And The Sinister Locals album seems to be just released as well, I noticed a minute ago!

Zone Six - S/T

Sulatron Records (st1708/st1708-2)

German psych/kraut/space/impro rock band Zone Six was formed almost by accident when Liquid Visions couldn't play a gig they were asked to play and bass player Dave Schmidt (later also known as Sula Bassana) formed a new band for the gig. The idea was to play long, trance-inducing space rock jams and that's what they did. Hans-Peter from Liquid Visions was playing guitar, Dave bass and ex-Liquid Visions drummer Claus the drums. The first Zone Six album was recorded at rehearsal place on 8-track and later Dave added some overdubs at his home studio. A very limited tape edition was released at the first show in September 1997. Next year female vocals were added to the recordings and the first Zone Six CD was released on Early Birds. This album was in my opinion one of the most psychedelic released in the 90s and has gained cult status ever since. To celebrate 20 years of Zone Six Dave decided to reissue the album this year. Rather than re-releasing the CD he has put out the original instrumental version that has so far been unavailable to the big public!

The album is divided into 13 individual tracks, some of which are only short interludes. My promo CD-R copy is just two, side-long tracks, so I won't even try to tell what part is going on at what time. All the music just flows continuosly for the whole one-hour-trip, so that won't be really necessary either... All you need to know is that this album will take you on a journey to some strange, multi-coloured psychedelic world and you just might never want to come back. Just close your eyes and let your mind wander in these wonderful, strange, alien soundscapes. I must say that even as I really liked the Early Birds CD version, the music does work better without the vocals. I also like the occasional dub influences and very experimental parts, so this is not only rock music. The sound quality is also just superb, especially for a 20-year-old rehearseal recording. Wonderful! What's perhaps the best thing here still is that the album is now available on vinyl for the first time ever, so vinyl freaks get you copies fast before they're sold-out! Also available on CD.

keskiviikko 18. lokakuuta 2017

Siinai - Sykli

Svart Records (SVART115)

Siinai is a Finnish electronic/ambient/space/trance/post/krautrock band that has previously released four albums, two of which in collaboration with Canadian Moonface. I wrote a review of the excellent Supermarket album three years ago. I have also been enjoying their rare live performances a lot (check out my live video at the end). Sykli is, once again, a sort of a theme album. It deals with the various cycles of life on Earth and in Space. It has a bit melancholic mood, probably due to the difficulties in life that the members have been experiencing. But I still feel it celebrates life itself with its subtle, gorgeous melodies, repetitive, hypnotic patterns and psychedelic vibes.

There are five long, instrumental pieces on the album. "Temppeli" starts off the ritual with smooth, pleasant sequencers and celestial synthesizers. Very ambient and uplifting, like Tangerine Dream for example. The melancholic "Mestari" brings in soft percussion and some ethnic vibe as well. I'm reminded of Popol Vuh and the like. The title track "Sykli" is based on Manuel Göttsching styled delay guitar work that I always love and the band has utilized before. Little by little the track grows into interstellar proportions, wow! The ultra hypnotic"Ananda" is the longest track on the album at 11:25 and the first one that really rocks out. It has a mechanic, hypnotic kraut beat á la NEU! or La Düsseldorf and pretty much stays exactly the same for the whole duration. Get entranced! The last track "Europa" begins with a bit noisy drone and slowly a motorik beat rises from the ashes. Later on the NEU! vibe gets even stronger, when we also get a simple chord progression. It really feels like it's '72-'75 in West-Germany and I'm loving it! What a great album as a whole. You can now pre-order the CD and two different, limited vinyl editions and that's what you should. The album will be out next week, and the release party will be celebrated at Kuudes Linja, Helsinki, on the 24th of November.

maanantai 16. lokakuuta 2017

Various ‎Artists – Kopf Musik

Fruits de Mer Records (crustacean 79)

This massive 3-CD-set is a dream come true for all krautrock fans with no vinyl playing option! Kopf Musik compiles together most (but not all) krautrock tracks covered by modern bands and released on vinyl by Fruits de Mer. The first CD is filled with tracks from the 2LP+7" Head Music (crustacean 36), so there are classics by Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül I, Can, Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream etc. performed by the cream of the psych bands of today like Vibravoid,  Earthling Society, Vert:x, Dead Sea Apes etc. Frobischer Nick's Ash Ra Temple cover "Schizo" is a new mix and all the tracks sound awesome. No fillers here, I can tell you! Also loving the funny intro by krautrock legend Eroc.

 Head Music continues for the first four tracks on CD 2 with Jau Tausig's Amon Düül II cover "Surrounded By The Stars", Electric Moon's Madrigal Meridian (Tangerine Dream), Frobisher Neck Heads South By Weaving's "Silver Cloud ( La Düsseldorf) and Electric Orange's "Lied An Zons" (Arno Clauss). All very cool! The next tracks originate from the Shrunken Head Music (crustacean 43) 2 x 7" compilation that was released in 2013. Black Tempest plays TD's "Rubycon Part 1", Vespero does Faust with "J`Ai Mal Aux Dents" and Frobisher Neck performs "To Another World" by Brainticket (not exactly kraut but close). Vibravoid does wonders on Can's "Mother Sky" (new mix of a track originating from their Krautrock Sensation 7" EP) and the last three tracks are from Roqueting Through Space and DfM Annual 2013 compilations (Cranium Pie's Research Baking Station, Helicon, Frobisher Neck and Vespero doing Brainticket, Neu! x 2 and Faust). Amazing!

 The third CD here includes just three tracks but they are very long. Brainticket's "Brainticket" is perfect material for ambient/trance legend Astralasia and this version even makes you want to dance. This is also around nine minutes longer than the version previously released on Postcards from the Deep 10 x flexi 7" compilation... Ax Genrich helped out by Sunhair offers an live version of his own "Spaceship Memory" only previously available on The 14th Dream of Dr. Sardonus promo CD-R. The Bevis Frond jams for 24 minutes along with Electric Sandwich's "China". This was originally released as part of the Side Effects box set that had eight bands to perform one side-long cover each. Personallyl I never get tired of hearing Nick Saloman play solo guitar, so a lovely ending to a brilliant triple compilation. A must have for all those krautheads who missed the original releases and also a very nice (and handy) item to have even if you didn't. This was initially sold only at the Fruits de Mer gigs and festivals this Summer and Autumn but if you're lucky you can get one of the last ever copies on sale online (for non-UK customers, check out Heyday Mailorder.

torstai 12. lokakuuta 2017

Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe

Electric Magic Ride (EMCD07/EMLPX)

Samsara Blues Experiment was formed in 2007 by ex-Terraplane guitarist Christian Peters. Their 2010 debut album Long Distance Trip has already gained a sort of cult status in the heavy psychedelic blues/stoner rock circles and you can expect to pay over 100€ for the original green limited edition LP. After that debut the band has released two studio albums and one live one as well as a couple of EP's. After a few years' break (while Christian was doing solo stuff as Surya Kris Peters and getting deeper into Eastern spirituality) Samsara Blues Experiment is back and they sound better than ever.

The new album released in April (yes, I'm very late again, sorry...) includes five long tracks. First we've got the long opener "Vipassana" that takes us out for a meditative flight on mystical, ancient flying machines. This track is a real trip and brings to mind 90s Finnish cult psych/prog rockers Kingston Wall although this also has some heavier parts. Excellent! "Sad Guru Returns" starts off with a spoken sample and then the heavy blues rocking begins. Some killer stoner riffs as well as more atmospheric stuff in this nice instrumental track! "Glorious Daze" is a more laid-back, slow tune that gets you into dreamy, meditative state while it grows. This has some similarities with Colour Haze as well as classic hard rock bands I guess and also some sitar and electric piano etc. Cool! The longest piece is the 15-minute title track that starts as very melancholic and instrumental. After some cool, psychedelic jamming things get more intense and there is also some vocals and then they turn then song into blues and then into groovier rocking. The album is finished with the emotional and pretty progressive "Easter Sun & Western Moon" that has some nice keyboards and organ as well. The track gets heavier along the way. This is a great ending for an amazing, powerful album that comes highly recommended. Get it on vinyl, CD or digital!

tiistai 10. lokakuuta 2017

Dj Astro's next gigs...

I'm very happy to announce that I have two cool shows to dj in Helsinki pretty soon! I will be spinning vinyl in these events at the legendary Tavastia venue:

Magma (FR) & Circle @ Tavastia, 26.10.2018

Moon Duo (US), Ghost World & UF Ojala @ Tavastia, 14.11.2018

Arc of Ascent - Realms of the Metaphysical

Astral Projection / Clostridium (AST013 / CR0000030)

Arc of Ascent from New Zealand is a sort of heavy stoner/doom metal version of Craig Williamson's cosmic, hypnotic and spiritual psych folk solo project Lamp of the Universe. This one is more like a real band though and also plays live gigs sometimes. On this new album Craig is joined by his mates Matt Cole-Parker and Mark McGeady. All the songs are written and produced by Craig. This is the band's third album and probably the best so far.

Most of the six songs are slow, hypnotic and heavy. "Set The Planets Free" starts up the ceremony. As is typical for Arc of Ascent, there are crushingly heavy, repetative riffs but also enough melody, variation and psychedelic elements to keep things interesting. I really prefer melodic vocals to creepy crawls or screaming also in doom metal context and Craig is not only a killer player but also an excellent singer for this kind of stuff. Anyway, the opener has a strong Black Sabbath vibe and I like it a lot. "Eye of the Sages" sounds like some of the traditional doom metal bands like Candlemass and has quite a lot of solo guitar work as well. Cool! "Haxagram" is closer to stoner rock and even reminds me of Loop. A bit more psychedelic vibes on this one, great! "In the Light" is another heavy and dark traditional doom track and has some killer riffs and hounting keyboards as well. My favourite still probably is the album's shortest track "Benediction Moon", you just can't stop headbanging to this one! Craig took out his beloved sitar for the last, long track "Temple Stone", but the more laid-back intro soon gives room for some Reverend Bizarre styled heavy pounding. The sitar makes a slight come back in the middle and then things get really heavy again. At the end the track gets some organ sounds and slowly and emotionally dies away little by little. What a great ending to a superb album! Craig has released the album on CD on his own Astral Projection label and there are three different, limited vinyl editions on the amazing Clostrudium. Recommended!