Dawn in Space is the debut release from Spanish double-guitar heavy jam foursome Pyramidal. Issued on CD by Radix Records and limited gatefold 2LP with bonus tracks through Krauted Mind, the full-length mostly follows the guitars of Miguel Angel Sanz and Óscar Soler (the former also contributes synth and the latter the album’s sparse vocals) and like the architecture of the band’s native Alicante, there’s a vague Middle Eastern influence in the psychedelic ranging that works coincidingly with the modern heavy jam mindset. Tonally, even a minor-key cut like “Kosmik Blizzard” isn’t so viscous that it can’t move, and Pyramidal do well throughout to vary the pace and level of activity so as to hold attention for Dawn in Space’s 62-minute duration, or at very least not lull to sleep when it doesn’t mean to be hypnotic. The “chill” effect that a lot of European heavy psych has had to offer over the last year or two – thinking of bands like Samsara Blues Experiment, Electric Moon and their ilk of post-Colour Haze improvisers – comes across quite clearly through some of this material, and at over an hour long, it’s hard to believe that’s not on purpose, but there’s a space rocking musical influence as well to go along with the titles and artwork that comes through Lluís Mas’ drumming and Miguel Rodes’ bass; a sense of forward and outward push. For that, Pyramidal earn their requisite-for-space-rock Hawkwind comparison, but again, Dawn in Space has more going on stylistically than just following Dave Brocke’s chemtrails. To put a point on it, the hidden track that comes on about a minute after closer “Mars Lagoon” ends has more in common in terms of its ethic and execution with Yawning Man.
And though that’s true – maybe it seems like a finer line than some, but it’s also more breadth than one finds in many acts – what’s really going to make any release like Dawn in Space is going to be the chemistry between the players involved. Sanz, Soler, Rodes and Mas give an ample showing in this regard, the patience of the build in the 10-minute “Pastikleuten (Part I & II)” being a prime instance, but it’s pretty clear from the whole of the album that it’s a case of development getting under way and what’s playing out across these seven-plus songs is the beginning stages of what will undoubtedly be a more protracted arc. Still, wah-drenched solos and transitional injections of synth from Sanz have their own appeal, and Pyramidal’s dedication to and strong sense of aesthetic carry them through much of this material, and whether it’s the verses that suddenly appear on the later “Tempel Iaru” or “Black Land,” which follows the brief and swirling opener “Intronauts,” or the longer instrumentals that make up the crux of Dawn in Space, one could hardly listen to the record and not come out of it thinking the band has no idea what they’re doing. Like doom for doomers, it’s heavy psych for heavy psychers, mixed so that Rodes’ bass stands out punctuating “Kosmik Blizzard” as much as the riff it’s feeding into, and so that Mas’ drums never quite leave the ground but never sound like they’re purposefully staying attached to it either, far-miked cymbals coming across naturally. Perhaps predictably, Pyramidal recorded the entirety of Dawn in Space live, and that warmth and vibrancy is there both in tone and performance. The guitars never quite shred, but the leads suit the mood well, and though the midsection of the title-track feels a bit like it’s lost its footing, there’s something about that sensibility that works well with Pyramidal’s overall approach.
Particularly so as Dawn in Space moves into its final three cuts, “Plastikleuten (Part I & II),” “Tempel Iaru” and “Mars Lagoon.” Like what’s come before, each seems to have its own sub-hook – i.e., something, be it a riff, drum fill, bass line, synth, vocals or solo, that stands it out from the rest – but both “Plastikleuten (Part I & II)” and “Tempel Iaru” top 10 minutes, and with the bonus track included, “Mars Lagoon” is more than 14, so together they account for more than half the album’s runtime. Fittingly, the songs unfold in gradual, lysergic motion, and encompass the listener in cosmic ambience, the vocals in “Tempel Iaru” providing a bit of anchor where one is much needed. Shifting into a winding Captain Beyond-style proto prog without losing the space echo before its drum solo kicks in, “Tempel Iaru” is the strongest and most diverse of the tracks on Dawn in Space, but the guitar jam of “Mars Lagoon” has its charm as well, and by then, Pyramidal have long since either engrossed or repelled, so if you’re still on board, you should have no problem drifting where the band goes. A silent break follows fading feedback and then the hidden track quickly gets moving, again with a more desert rock tone. If it turned out to be a Yawning Man cover, I wouldn’t be surprised, but either way, it’s a style they wear well and hopefully something from which elements might show up in their next batch of songs. As it stands, Dawn in Space is a solid launch point for the band, who ably blend space and psych in a manner not totally their own but nonetheless pulled off by the already obvious comfort of the players with each other. Fans of the genre will likely know what they’re getting, but that’s hardly cause for disappointment, and though Pyramidal will have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves in an European scene packed with likeminded acts, one has to admire them and the passion they show for making the effort in the first place.
Tags: Alicante, Pyramidal, Radix Records, Spain