Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle, Freak Out in the Fjord: Cosmic Collision

Posted in Reviews on May 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective meets black moon circle freak out in the fjord

It happened once upon a Nov. 17, 2017, that respected cosmic improvisationalists Øresund Space Collective made their way from Denmark/Portugal/Planet Omega to Trondheim, Norway, where they were set to join with Black Moon Circle and take part in the Freak Out in the Fjord festival for which they’d eventually name this album. The title, though, is more homage than descriptor, as what makes up the record isn’t the actual live set, but the results of a studio session the next day. That might seem counterintuitive — especially for a band who are not at all shy about putting out live material — until one actually listens to Freak Out in the Fjord, at which point the results become largely inarguable. I say that as a fan of Øresund Space Collective, of course, but if you want to try to make a case against gathering a nine-piece lineup together, sticking them in the studio like some kind of off-the-cuff orchestra — three drummers and all — I’m happy to entertain it.

Certainly by the time they get around in opener “Rendezvous in the Nebula” to tossing off a swaggering reference to Jimmy Forrest‘s “Night Train” (also recorded by James Brown for Live at the Apollo in 1963), any such issue should be settled. From that interstellar-swinging 26-minute leadoff on through the other three more-than-a-side-consuming pieces on the 119-minute Space Rock Productions-issued triple LP, the personality changes, but the ultimate course of exploration is consistent. It’s jammy bliss, and as a particular sucker for an interplay between more than multiple drummers/percussionists, it seems like the rhythms here stand up especially well to the wash of guitar, bass, keys and synth surrounding. For reference, here is the lineup for the session, with their credits directly cut and pasted from the Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp page:

Magnus Hannibal – Fender Rhodes, Synthesizer
Tim Wallander – Drums (right), Fender Rhodes (Side B)
Simon W. Gullikstad – Drums (left)
Hasse Horrigmoe – Bass (slight left)
Øyvin Engan – Bass (slight right)
Vemund Engan – Guitar (right)
Jonathan Segel – Violin, Guitar (left)
Scott “Dr. Space” Heller – Modular Synth, Kaoscillator, Korg Monotron
Per Andreas Gulbrandsen – Drums (side B right, side C/D center)

For those familiar either with Øresund Space Collective or with the Norwegian-native Black Moon Circle, it will come as little surprise that the common thread between the two — aside from a propensity for psych-jamming — is Scott “Dr. Space” Heller. The bandleader of Øresund Space Collective has been a member of Black Moon Circle live and in the studio (also live there, as it happens), and as the two outfits work here under the collective banner of Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle, he’s the one tying them together. It is a noble endeavor. The general method of Øresund Space Collective is to hit the studio or stage, press record, and go. Like off-the-cuff jazz born of psychedelia and space rock, their work is always an adventure and always captures the specific moment of its creation, never to come again. Bringing Black Moon Circle — the Engans and Gulbrandsen, as well as Gullikstad and Heller himself — into the fold, they only expand the reach, and as Freak Out in the Fjord plays through its massive sprawl across “Rendezvous in the Nebula” (26:18), “Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens” (23:55), “Dinner with Gregg A. and Jerry G.” (33:16) and “Freak Out in the Fjord” (36:03), the pieces each develop a persona of their own.

This is true whether it’s the Southern guitar inflection of “Dinner with Gregg A. and Jerry G.” or the engrossing well of energy of “Rendezvous in the Nebula,” the organ and synth making their presence felt in the second half of “Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens” by building a tension that instead of blowing up pays off in arguably the record’s sleekest groove, or the title-track’s experimentalist pulse, manifest in bouts of noise and swells of volume as the group moves inextricably toward a grand finale every bit worthy of the nearly two hours preceding. But as with either the work of Øresund Space Collective on their own or Black Moon Circle‘s jammy material or really any such release, Freak Out in the Fjord isn’t about the destination so much as the outward trip to get there, however satisfying the end proves to be.

So far as I know, it doesn’t, but Freak Out in the Fjord should probably come with some manner of warning label about melted consciousness or “these people are professionals; don’t try this at home” or something of the like. The fact of the matter is that whatever else is going on, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle are in their element when mounting these sonic excursions, and it’s never going to be for everyone. It is a kind of extremity. Not of volume, or intensity — at least not in a “metal” sense — but of purpose. It is a constant drive to push deeper into the heart of creativity and to document its realization. Øresund Space Collective, its related outfits and especially Dr. Space have amassed an extensive discography, as a group like this will, but some of their best work is done when they force themselves into a different avenue of collaboration, whether it’s with Black Moon Circle or the likes of KG Westman or Gary Arce.

The core of their approach is unwavering, and well it should be, but over time, it is also showing itself as infinitely malleable to a range of contexts. Maybe that’s easy to say for Øresund Space Collective, since their approach is based on an open sensibility, but the prospect of improv space rock is one that could just as easily fall flat, or sound empty, and instead, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle are engaging and immersive in kind. Whether you’re putting it on for a two-hour chillout or sitting with your headphones and picking out which drums are in which channel on which track, Freak Out in the Fjord delivers an ultimately satisfying experience for the converted or those willing to be, and while I know the whole point of the thing is to preserve the ephemeral spirit of a moment already gone — remember this was late 2017; though the two bands are touring together — I can’t help but hope Øresund Space Collective and Black Moon Circle meet again for another studio session, as it seems like there’s still so much of the universe to be discovered.

Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle, Freak Out in the Fjord (2019)

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

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3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space, Ear to Space: Souldreams and Eagle Bones

Posted in Reviews on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

3rd ear experience with dr. space ear to space

In 2017, scientists measured ripples in gravity for the first time caused by a neutron star collision in the galaxy rather unromantically-named NGC 4993. It was badass. I don’t know what effect bringing together Californian jammers 3rd Ear Experience with synthesizer specialist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective will have on the universe at large, but if there are gravity waves caused as it beams itself out across space and time, one could hardly be surprised. The two parties coming together perhaps isn’t so much of an impact — that is, it’s actually a pretty smooth process, rather than two objects smashing into each other — but the end result on the 73-minute/five-track Ear to Space feels like a cosmic event anyway. Led by guitarist/producer Robbi Robb, 3rd Ear Experience have been rolling out desert-hued cosmic weirdo jams for the last half-decade, prone to massive explorations or tighter offerings in a varied, never-quite-know-what’s-coming aesthetic that extends to the vibe of the material itself as well as its construction, such as it is constructed at all, what with all the improv.

That sensibility — improv — is all over Ear to Space, with the first three sides of the 2LP each consumed by a single track pushing out across ever greater reaches, such that opener “Screams of Eagle Bone” (14:51), “Anam Cara” (20:22) and the extra-kraut-feeling “Dreams of the Caterpillar” (22:22) become a nebulous sprawl of trance-inducing aural voyage, a put-on-and-mellow-out excursion of engaging atmospheres and deep-running interstellar salutation. The amalgam collaboration of 3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space doesn’t feel so much like an anomaly as it does a cohesive unit, as the two parties work toward the same ends in proffering an ultima-kosmiche space rock, the sax infusion early on “Screams of Eagle Bone” giving immediate Hawkwindian flair to the initial push, but the album finding its own way shortly thereafter as though, having once broken out of the stratosphere, it decides to go wondering around the neighborhood and see what it might run into. Oh, hello cosmic enlightenment. Didn’t see you there.

It’s an interesting project in terms both of the actual results — which are frankly kind of hard to write about because they’re so entrancing — and the process by which they were made. The aforementioned first three tracks, also known as sides A, B and C, were put together first by 3rd Ear Experience, with Robbi Robb on guitar and synth-guitar, Jorge Carrillo on bass, Richard Stuverud on drums, Amritakripa on synth and the bizarre chanting at the end of “Anam Cara,” and John Whoolilurie on sax. They were then sent to Heller, residing in Portugal, who essentially sat in on the “finished” jams, adding his signature sound via custom modular synth box and presumably other beep-boop this-and-thats — don’t ask me how the magic happens; it’s technology beyond my feeble understanding. The short version of the tale is: it works. If they said Dr. Space wizarded his way to California to join 3rd Ear Experience in the studio live, no one would think twice about questioning it. But, the last two tracks basically flip the method. Dr. Space started out with the synth textures of “Coin in the Desert” (9:37) and “Sue’s Dream World” (6:04), then sent that to Robb and company to be finished and mixed and mastered.

3rd Ear Experience with Dr Space Ear to Space lps

Especially in the case of “Sue’s Dream World,” that change is palpable in a departure to more atmospheric reaches, a lack of drums emphasizing the feeling of floating that’s been there all along if somewhat tethered to molecular cohesion by Stuverud‘s drums and the other percussion around even in “Coin in the Desert,” let alone “Screams of Eagle Bone,” which is downright straightforward in comparison. That said, because “Sue’s Dream World” is shorter, “Dreams of the Caterpillar” might actually be the point where Ear to Space finds itself most crossing dimensions, though it hardly seems a coincidence that both songs involve the word “dream” in their respective titles. That’s not to say “Anam Cara” is lacking anything for otherworldliness. Its sax-laced midsection freakout is a joy to behold, especially in terms of what Carrillo brings on bass, and the solo-topped wandering that happens afterward only enhances the wash, organ and synth coinciding to ensure there’s due melodic breadth to go with all the spaced-out spread happening.

On some level, the listener who is most likely to take on a collaborative effort from 3rd Ear Experience and Dr. Space probably knows what they’re getting going into it. That is, Ear to Space is probably not the kind of thing that finds its way into the hands of the not-yet-converted, except through word-of-mouth proselytizing. Fine. I don’t think going into it knowing that it’s going to be spacey diminishes the listening experience at all, because that simple category is so open to interpretation. 3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space are indeed spaced out. That’s the idea they’re working from. That’s what they’re going for. But that doesn’t account for the undulating swells at the start of “Dreams of the Caterpillar” or the percussion jam in “Coin in the Desert” or the serenity with which “Screams of Eagle Bone” later resolves its early outbound rocketing.

The nature of improvised space rock is to capture these moments at the heart of creation, and so even while the frame might be familiar, the portrait within is inherently fresh. The point is to make a moment, and that moment, that specific “right then,” doesn’t happen twice. It may seem like an incongruity that something so tied to ephemera — made once, not recreated — should have such a lasting impression, but this too is part of the whole idea and part of what makes Ear to Space so gorgeous as a concept. It’s two parties reaching across continents and an ocean to come together in one celebratory creation ritual. It’s not meant to last, but it does. I’d be surprised if Ear to Space is the only time Robb and Heller join forces, as there seems to be so much more to be explored, and space itself is endless. Until then, this is a most encouraging first contact.

3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space, Ear to Space (2019)

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Dr. Space Premieres “Cosmic Explosions” Video from Alien Planet Trip Vol. 3

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dr space

Pardon me, but is the head of the household available? Great! Might you have a few minutes to hear the good word of our interstellar salvation? Excellent!

In that case, I delightfully turn you over to Dr. Space, the synth wizard — sometimes actually in costume, sometimes more of a figurative wizard — who stands as figurehead of the amorphous improv outfit Øresund Space Collective. Once of the US, then of Denmark, currently in Portugal with probably six or seven other places in between in what we pitifully think of as “our” dimension, Dr. Space has in the last 20-plus years amassed a massive catalog of output in the form of live records, studio jams, collaborations, splits, and more recently, solo affairs as part of a serious aptly dubbed Alien Planet Trip. The first them (review here) appeared in the night sky circa 2017, and a second followed in moodier fashion last year, amid a general onslaught of offerings.

The third is fully titled Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 3 Featuring Martin Weaver, and feels very much like the beginning of a collaboration that will flesh out further in the future — or maybe it already has if we’re consideringdr spaces alien planet trip vol 3 the realm of non-linear time. Either way, true to its somewhat cumbersome title, it brings together Dr. Space — né Scott Heller — with the also-currently-of-Portugal guitarist Martin Weaver, whom heavy rock heads might recognize from his time in ripe-for-reissue proto-riffers Wicked Lady, among scores of others, and the two mount a kraut-hued exploration of synthesizer and guitar textures across a 50-minute eight-tracker (the LP edition is 44-minutes and seven tracks) that casts forth a hypnotic psychedelic suggestion every bit worthy of owning a song called “Trance Pants.”

That cut, by the by, is a techno freakout the likes of which probably won’t make it into “the club” unless “the club” is indeed on another planet, but emblematic of the kind of experimentalism on display throughout. Opening with the duo “Lost in the Desert” — on which Weaver adds drum programming and various other percussion as well as guitar — and the brazenly ambient “Veganporcotopia,” Alien Planet Trip Vol. 3 willfully blows down the doors of consciousness in its reach such that it’s not just about throwing ideas onto the tape and seeing what the magnet holds, but of helping conjure the other-world to which the title alludes. Even in the shorter “Where Aliens Go to Die” and also-percussive “Cosmic Explosion” find their way to do that, and “Spacey Placey” and “Sue’s Dream of Exploding Sheep” only push further out from there.

It’s a trip, sir or madam, well worth the taking. I thank you for your time and descriptor-indulgence and wish you well on your journey.

Enjoy:

Dr. Space with Martin Weaver, “Cosmic Explosions” official video premiere

Dr Space makes another Alien planet trip and this time he takes guitarist Martin Weaver along with him. This track ‘Cosmic Explosions’ is off the new record Vol 3. The album takes the listener through many different soundscapes and textures.

The 3rd volume of Alien Planet Trips is a collaboration with guitar player, Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Dark). We met a year ago and found we had a in common musically and should work together. These tracks were conceived during the summer of 2018, when it was too hot to do anything outside. It had been many years since I used my Nord Lead 2 so it was time to take it out and see what sounds it could produce. Many of the tracks the main synth lines were created on the Nord Lead and then additional layers were added and Martin then laid down some guitars. Hope you enjoy this 3rd Trip. It is very different from Vol 1 and 2.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 15

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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It was last Friday about an hour before I had to head out for the start of Desertfest NYC that I cut the voice breaks for this episode, once again on my phone, while in transit. I did the same thing last time and it sounded like crap. I know the stakes are pretty low — that is, nobody really cares — but if you’re going to do a thing, at least try to do it well. I backed off the phone this time and hopefully that cut some of the overmodulation in my voice.

I say “hopefully” because I actually haven’t heard the show yet. I was at the fest on Sunday while it aired, so I’ll be catching the rerun at 9AM this Thursday when that’s on. This is the 15th episode of The Obelisk Show and it’s been an exceptionally busy few weeks, but it’s still fun to put together, and there were some killer tracks included this time from Worshipper, Abrahma, Molasses, Stone Machine Electric, The Well, Kandodo, Methadone Skies, and so on. Any opportunity to throw in some Øresund Space Collective makes me happy, so that was a must, and I was kind of also doing myself a favor in including Natas as the “classic track” (yay! classic track!) for the episode.

So basically, unless I crapped it up, at least the music is good. That’s what matters anyhow, or so I’m told.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.28.19

Pelican Midnight and Mescaline Nighttime Stories*
Abrahma Lost Forever In Time for the Last Rays of Light*
Worshipper Coming Through Light in the Wire*
BREAK
Molasses Drops of Sunlight Mourning Haze*
Los Mundos Subterráneo Mar Jurásico Calor Central*
Kandodo King Vulture K3*
Omen Stones Fresh Hell Omen Stones*
The Well This is How the World Ends Death and Consolation*
BREAK
Natas Samurai Delmar
Smear Old Town A Band Called Shmear*
Methadone Skies Where Were You When We Were into the Void? Different Layers of Fear*
Stone Machine Electric Purgatory Darkness, Dimensions, Disillusion*
BREAK
Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens Freak Out in the Fjord*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Thursday at 9AM. Next show is April 28. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle for a Freak Out in the Fjord

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

If you’re anything like me when it comes to the issue, Øresund Space Collective‘s jams arrive in the-more-the-merrier fashion. They’ve got two hours of live-captured improv psych and space rock? Cool, I’ll clear my afternoon calendar. Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle is, as the name implies, the coming together of those two outfits — the Norwegian troupe Black Moon Circle being no slouches themselves in the jam department — and Freak Out in the Fjord is their six-sided 3LP release named for the show in Trondheim, Norway, that was the occasion for their coming together. The day after the gig, the two outfits hit the studio, recorded four sprawling explorations, and they’re being pressed by Space Rock Productions for release on May 7 on CD/digi. LPs are behind held back by some manufacturing issue — doubtless whatever poor pressing plant couldn’t handle that much cosmic energy brought to bear in a single burst — but should be out in June.

It’s not a split. It’s a collaborative effort, with two guitars, two basses and three drumsets and probably more synth than Norway allows by law. It is two-plus of the trippiest hours you’ll spend.

They’re streaming the 24-minute “Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens” now and you can catch it at the bottom of this post. Do so.

Enjoy:

oresund space collective meets black moon circle freak out in the fjord

Øresund Space Collective meets Black Moon Circle – Freak out in the Fjord

Release on Space Rock Productions, SRP059

Release date: 7th May 2019

In November 2017, ØSC and BMC played a show in Trondheim, Norway called Freakout in the Fjord, which also featured the local band, Red Mountains. The next day, we were booked into the excellent, Øra studio, one of the best in Trondheim for a jam session.

It took a few hours to set up all the gear (2 guitar set ups, 2 bass set ups, 3 drums kits (yes, 3!), modular synth, Fender Rhodes and Oberheim synth and we were ready to go. Four jams were recorded ranging from Miles Davis inspired (Afterglow) to Grateful Dead (Dinner) to heavy space rock (Freakout). It is a hell of a 2hr musical journey.

Recorded at Øra Studio, Trondheim, Norway on Saturday Nov 18th, 2017.
Recording engineer Magnus Koefod
Mixed and mastered at Brygga studio November 2018 by Magnus Koefod.

Tracklisting:
Side A- Rendezvous in the Nebula
Side B- Afterglow in the sea of Sirens
Side C/D- Dinner with Gregg A and Jerry G
Side E/F- Freak out in the Fjord

Personnel:
Magnus- Fender Rhodes, Synthesizer
Tim- Drums (right), Fender Rhodes (Side B)
Simon- Drums (left)
Hasse- Bass (slight left)
Øyvin- Bass (slight right)
Vemund- Guitar (right)
Jonathan- Violin, Guitar (left)
Dr Space- Modular Synth, Kaoscillator, Korg Monotron
Peran- Drums (side B right, side C/D center)

Live dates:
Lygtens Kro, København, DK May 23rd
Spaceboat VI Hamburg, DE May 24/25th 2019
Urban Spree, Berlin May 26th, 2019
Lodz, Poland May 27th
Warsaw, Poland May 28th
Poland or day off May 29th
Fenix Bar, Alyst, Lithuania May 30th
Fontaine Palace, Liep?ja, Latvia May 31st
Ääniwalli, Helsinki, Finland June 1st
Vastavirta, Tampere, FIN June 2nd
Melody Box, Stockholm, Sweden June 4th
Sonic Rock Solstice, UK June 23rd 2019

http://www.spacerockproductions.com
http://blackmooncircle.bandcamp.com
http://oresundspacecollective.com

Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle, Freak Out in the Fjord (2019)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 07

Posted in Radio on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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I wanted to get a little weird. You know, the last episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio was some of the best tracks from 2018, but in addition to some new stuff, some 2019 stuff — cuts from Skraeckoedlan and Thunderbird Divine — I wanted to make sure I included some songs that people might’ve missed in 2018. In fact, with Melody Fields early on in the playlist, that was a record I missed completely until I put up one or the other of the year-end lists and someone pointed it out to me on Thee Facebooks. It’s an awesome record. On the show, I mistakenly said it was released through World in Sound. The LP was on Kommun 2 and the CD was on Sound Effect. Credit where it’s due, because that record rules.

Likewise, “it rules” was also a running theme. Black Helium was a standout from that 100-album Quarterly Review that I did in December, and being able to stand out among 99 other releases certainly seems worth highlighting to me. I was digging the Horehound record as I was getting ready to review it, and Skraeckoedlan I’m also getting ready to cover (maybe later this week?), while Faith in Jane I haven’t had the chance to review yet but those guys are great. Also from the Quarterly Review was Child, Space Coke and Carpet, while Goblinsmoker belong to the UK’s ever-growing swath of bands with silly names and a destructive bent. And then at the end I wanted to space out like I used to do with the podcasts — just have it hit a point and go far out and not come back. Jam into the reaches. Plus it gave me an excuse to talk about Øresund Space Collective’s AR/VR artwork for Kybalion, which it awesome in its own right.

The odd-track-out I suppose is Witchcraft, but I talk about that on the show. It’s kind of a new-classic in my mind and something I wanted to focus on this episode. We’re moving into a new year and Witchcraft’s self-titled came out 15 years ago. I think the only reason it’s not already considered classic heavy is because it’s still so relevant, it hasn’t even allowed for that kind of distance yet. But make no mistake, that’s a classic album.

Anyway, considering I had to record the voice breaks on my phone because my internet was so craptastic at the time that I couldn’t go directly into Gimme’s back end software like I’m supposed to, I thought the show came out pretty well. If you listened, I hope you agree. And if you missed it, I hope you can catch the replay.

Here’s the playlist:

The Obelisk Show Ep. 07 – 01.06.19

Greenbeard Kill to Love Yourself Onward, Pillager
Skraeckoedlan Kung Mammut Eorþe
BREAK
Melody Fields Trädgränsen Melody Fields
Faith in Jane Mountain Lore Countryside
Horehound Sloth Holocene
Foot Sweet Stuff Buffalo
Child The Other Song I
BREAK
Witchcraft No Angel or Demon Witchcraft
Black Helium Summer Spells Primitive Fuck
Space Coke Kali Ma L’Appel du Vide
Rifflord The Other Side 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
Goblinsmoker Toad King Toad King
Thunderbird Divine Qualified Magnasonic
BREAK
Øresund Space Collective Smooth Future Kybalion
Carpet Selene About Rooms and Elephants
Deep Space Destructors Floating Visions from the Void

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is Jan. 20. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion: Augmenting Reality

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective kybalion

It makes sense somehow that after 12 years and countless studio and live releases, Øresund Space Collective would at last go transdimensional. The vehicle for the beginning of their evolution into a noncorporeal cybernetic form is called Kybalion, and actually the title refers to the book of Hermetic philosophy teaching, among others, the principle of mentalism that puts thought as the basis for, well, everything, but either way, they sound thrilled to make the trip. Featuring eight songs and an 80-minute 2LP run, it was recorded in Nov. 2016, at either the same session or concurrent gathering to when the somewhat amorphous improv jam unit put down what became late 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here). That’s by no means the first time Øresund Space Collective have gotten more than one record out of a session — 2016’s Visions Of… (review here), Different Creatures (review here) and Ode to a Black Hole (review here) were all recorded over a period of three days in Oct. 2014 — so there may yet be more to come from the Nov. 2016 session.

Either way, they certainly give plenty to chew on in extended jams like 21-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Open the Door and Ride,” and as alluded to at the outset, they’re working in multiple dimensions. The Space Rock Productions vinyl and a special edition of the CD come with cover art and extra artwork that works with an augmented reality app to give a 3D art experience, the cover coming to life as Øresund Space Collective synth wizard and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller speaks in echo about the mentalism and the power of thought in the universe and so on. Even the labels of the LP itself see the artwork of Batuhan Bintas (CyberRabbit) come to life. It looks to be remarkably well done, and as the cover is filled with various iconography, there’s plenty to dig into, from blue Venus to a rocking future Stephen Hawking and acid guru Owsley Stanley on what seems to be a cosmic bicycle.

As to the songs themselves, on the whole they’re shorter snippets than Øresund Space Collective sometimes manifest, but whether it’s the funky guitar and violin in the 17-minute “Take a Trip” or the classic rock flair to the extended guitar lead in “Open the Door and Ride,” there is a sense of personality to each jam that stands it out among its peers, whether it’s the running water sounds and later psychedelic thrust of “Pixie Dust,” the more forward synth of and motorik beat of “Down the Tube” or the sci-fi wash of “Sequencing the Human Brain,” synth and keyboard intertwining along with pulled bluesy guitar notes and an ultra-psychedelic crux that pushes the drums deep into the mix to let the ambience hold sway. Two sort-of-interludes appear as the second and second-to-last tracks, with “Drop It – Tropical Flavour of the Month” and “New Tropical Flavor” that indeed are named for the surf sound of the guitar, and they’re quick at under three minutes apiece and do well to tie together some of the disparate sides of Kybalion.

The band must have a million of these “usable moments” hanging around from their periodic get-in-the-studio-and-hit-record sessions, but the “Tropical” duo are put to effective use here. The last cut and the just the third out of the eight to touch the 10-minute mark is “Smooth Future,” and while, again, it’s relatively short at 10:10, it’s a gorgeous and serene note to end on, with synth gently cascading in and out in a slow-motion swirl as violin and guitar accent each other and the drums and bass hold together a steady and laid back space rocking outward progression. It comes to a pretty fervent push in its final minutes, but by the time they get there, the sense of drift is so palpable that there’s really nothing overstated about it, and they end, as the title indicates, smooth, with drums, synth and effects-laced guitars gently letting the listener go back to reality.

But who the hell wants to be in reality? Obviously not Øresund Space Collective, or they wouldn’t proffer such resonant sparefaring jams in the first place. As always for them, the music is improvised, and that exploratory sensibility has come to define their work. I have no doubt that they have their bumps in the creative road, and when I called pieces “snippets” above, that wasn’t an accident Even as “Pixie Dust,” “Down the Tube” and “Sequencing of the Human Brain” reach over nine minutes long, they feel like glimpses of longer jams, fluid moments captured on tape. Behind September’s Live in Berlin 2018 (review here) and May’s Chatoyant Breath (review here), Kybalion is the third Øresund Space Collective offering of 2018 — though Dr. Space also had a second solo album out — and it may or may not be the final collection culled from that Nov. 2016 session, but either way, for its multi-phase presentation and its as-ever glimpse at the big-bang moment of the creative process, the very beginnings of the spark that for many becomes the foundation of verses or choruses, the collective’s latest astrojazz/krautronaut excursion should well please fans looking to bask in the grand kosmiche chill that unites the various strings of galaxies and mind, thought and form.

Recent past outings have seen them partnered with former Siena Root/Indian classicist multi-instrumentalist KG Westman (Hallucinations Inside the Oracle) and guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man (Chatoyant Breath), but Kybalion reminds that so much of the appeal of Øresund Space Collective in the first place comes from the chemistry happening in the moment the jams are taking place, in that marriage between the ephemeral and the ethereal, their music seeming to speak to something so timeless while also being fleeting and gone the moment it’s put down, since, inevitably, the same improvisation can’t happen twice. Their megajams continue to stand them out in the sphere of heavy psychedelia and space rock, and while I don’t know the next time Øresund Space Collective will get together for a few days in Copenhagen or elsewhere, they only ever seem to push themselves further into the greater reaches of Far Out, and I can hear nothing in Kybalion to indicate their expansion will stop anytime soon.

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion AR demonstration

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion (2018)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

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Øresund Space Collective website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Øresund Space Collective, Live in Berlin 2018

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective live in berlin

[Click play above to stream Øresund Space Collective’s Live in Berlin 2018. Album is out Sept. 12 on Space Rock Productions.]

Even as multinational purveyors of the interstellar Øresund Space Collective were celebrating the release of their latest studio album, May 2018’s Chatoyant Breath, they were already planning their next move. So it goes in the cosmic long game for an act that has nearly 30 offerings of one sort or another in the 12 years, building a catalog as expansive as their sound itself and giving no indication of a slowdown in productivity. Touring to mark the arrival of Chatoyant Breath, they performed June 2 at the Sneaky Snake Festival in Berlin, Germany, rounding out a run of nine dates in nine days and featuring the work of Vemund Engin of Black Moon Circle on guitar alongside the cast headed by synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who before the show starts asks the crowd if they’re ready for a space trip. It would seem they are.

Øresund Space Collective from that beginning point unfurl five extended and completely improvised jams, opening with the 29-minute longest track (immediate points) “Improv to the Other Side,” which seems to have gotten there by the time Engin is dug into his solo in the later minutes. Whatever else Øresund Space Collective might be, they’re a vibe band. The version of space rock they play can be uptempo and full of thrust or it can be languid and dream-toned — or it can be both, if they want it to be — but their always-off-the-cuff jams work in intricate layers to create a style that’s immersive in the extreme and meant to be taken as an entirety in its entirety. That is, one can sit and pick apart elements like Jonathan‘s violin (he also plays guitar and theremin) that shows up in the opener and reappears in the subsequent “Sneaky Snake Jam” (the shortest inclusion at 16:03), but in his stage banter, even Heller seems to be advising the audience relax the brain and absorb the jams through the skin, and I’ve found as well that’s the best way to enjoy their work.

I count myself a fan of that work, I should note, and I consider it more or less a favor I’m doing myself whenever I get to review one of their outings. Live in Berlin 2018 is special not only for the lead guitar work of Engin or the aforementioned violin, but also for the manner in which the band so fluidly build their groove on “Sneaky Snake Jam,” or the push that emerges in the first half of the 27-minute “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama,” punctuated by Tim‘s drumming as Mogens and Dr. Space swirl out synth leads and the latter takes a second to check in with the crowd: “How y’all feeling? Great energy in the room.” Easy enough to believe. With Jiri on bass rounding out a six-piece lineup, Heller seems to particularly relish a bandleader role here. There are no vocals, or at least none discernible, as they’ve never really been a part of Øresund Space Collective‘s let’s-jam-our-way-to-the-heart-of-the-sun mission, but Heller introduces the band more than once and seems to be at the center of the proceedings.

oresund space collective (photo by Sabine Pottien)

Fair enough for his having founded the group and all that, and the human presence hardly could take away from the uptempo keyboard jazz in the middle of “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama” or the gloriously mellow funk that takes hold after the quiet opening of “Freaks of Berlin” (18:40), with a highlight performance by Tim on drums and another righteous classic-style solo from Engin on guitar. They take off in that jam, seem to burst forward, recede almost to the point of drone where it seems like maybe they’ve lost the direction, then make a bunch of noise until they get themselves sorted again and soon enough, they’re back in a quick-paced swing, capping quiet with a crash of drums in time for Heller to introduce Simon from Black Moon Circle to take over on drums for the finale “Another Jam for Sabine” while Tim moves to hand-percussion for the 17-minute finish.

And before they start, Heller states the intention of getting kind of an Afrobeat-space sound, but the end product of “Another Jam for Sabine” turns out to be more minor-key in the guitar, lending an almost Middle Eastern sensibility to its sound. While the guitar work remains impressive as it has been all along, a wash of synth early, backed by violin and meeting head-on with said guitar, makes “Another Jam for Sabine” a high point on multiple levels. Only fair they should reach maximum altitude as they get ready to end the set, but Øresund Space Collective have been around long enough at this point, whoever happens to be in the band at any given point, that they know what they want in terms of conjured atmospheres, and they sound confident here in bringing that to life, even if what they want is to jam.

Heller records most if not all of their live shows, and in addition to their 29 proper releases they have a massive digital archive of sets that can be downloaded — each one, of course, is different, with its own improvisations and its own direction depending on the night, but it’s hard to argue with the impulse for Live in Berlin 2018 to have been given a multi-track recording, a real mixdown and a physical pressing. Their energy playing Berlin for the first time and doing so while also wrapping up a five-country tour is palpable throughout and it sounds like band and audience alike were having a total blast. As prone as they can be to drift, it’s an active, engaging spirit that oozes from these explorations, and in their character and their sheer execution of a creative will, they only further the proposition that Øresund Space Collective are an institution in space rock. As Heller says when “Another Jam for Sabine” begins to wind down, “We’ll meet you in another universe some other time.” I believe it, and it probably won’t be all that long till it happens, either.

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Øresund Space Collective website

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