Review & Track Premiere: Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 2

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

BLACK SPACE RIDERS AMORETUM VOL 2

[Click play above to stream ‘Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. II (Living in My Dream)’ from Black Space Riders’ Amoretum Vol. 2. Album is out July 27.]

That must have been one hell of a writing session. At the very beginning of this year, German progressonauts Black Space Riders issued Amoretum Vol. 1 (review here), which wildly spanned genres across an eight-track/45-minute run. It was said at the time that Amoretum Vol. 2 — think: “an arboretum of love” — would follow closely behind, and one could hardly do anything but take the band at their word. But they’ve followed chapters one and two, which coincided with the two sides of the first LP, with a double-album — sides C, D, E and F — that total a whopping 14 tracks and 68 minutes. I don’t want to go around telling anyone their business, but Black Space Riders might have considered putting together a few more songs and adding a Vol. 3 to the saga. After all, everyone loves a good trilogy, and December will be here before any of us know it.

All kidding aside, the project is resoundingly ambitious in its concept and in the actual execution of its stylistic drive. Those familiar with Black Space Riders‘ prior work — 2016’s Beyond Refugeeum EP (discussed here), 2015’s Refugeeum (review here) long-player, 2014’s D:REI (discussed here), 2012’s Light is the New Black (review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) — know that the band has grown to encompass a significant creative sphere, and that they’re no strangers to hopping from genre to genre or experimenting with their sound in order to make a specific statement. As to the statement they’re making with Amoretum Vol. 2 and really the pair of both records with the title, it might be summed up in the hook of second track “Lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove Love (Break the Pattern of Fear),” which proffers the following: “Fear leads to anger, fear leads to hate/Hate leads to suffering, suffering and pain/So love love love love love love love love,” etc.

That chorus arrives amid a manic tumult of thoughtful and hard-hitting progressive metal that caps in galloping drums beneath and a keyboard line above muted crashes in succession and of course leads to the ambient linear build of “Walls Away” and the winding Celtic-inspired riff of “Slaínte (Salud, Dinero, Amor),” because that’s how it goes with Black Space Riders at this stage in their tenure: it goes. Far. The initials-only returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE and compatriots, vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and newer bassist MEI continue aggressive thrust on “Assimilating Love” and earlier cuts like opener “Before My Eyes,” “Lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove Love (Break the Pattern of Fear),” and the later “Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. II (Living in My Dream),” but this is no more a defining factor than the atmospheric breadth of highlight cut “Leaves of Life (Falling Down),” the resonant guitars of chapter five leadoff “Take Me to the Stars” or the harsh-vocals over post-rock guitar on the penultimate “No Way.” Scope is what Black Space Riders do best.

black space riders

It works because they don’t lose track of the songcraft in that process. And again, that must have been one hell of a writing session. To come out of it with a collection of at least 22 total tracks topping 100 minutes between them to spread across two albums while working across aesthetics around a consistent theme? Not a minor undertaking and a considerable achievement in the realization. As Amoretum Vol. 2 dives deeper into its chapters, the vibe becomes even thicker. “Take Me to the Stars” leads into the seven-minute cosmic drone build of “Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. I (The Ugly Corruptor),” which leads the way fluidly into the nodding intro riff of “Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. II (Living in My Dream),” and while “Chain Reaction” has its hand-claps, standout bassline, percussion and gang shouts, its pace is still more or less in the middle, giving itself over to the willful incongruity of manic drums and post-rock airy guitar in “No Way,” that transition also somehow smooth into the quiet start of 13-minute closer “The Wait is Never Over.”

And of course that final track is a focal point. How could it not be? Black Space Riders, whose sense of purpose is writ large in every facet of Amoretum, set themselves to the task of summarizing the stretch they’ve undertaken, and there’s just about no way they didn’t know when they were putting it together that “The Wait is Never Over” would finish off record(s). There’s simply nowhere else to put it. An initial linear build starts from silence to comprise the first half of the song while a break after the halfway point brings it down to almost reggae-rhythmed mellow vibes, only to surge out again and cap with a residual noise. All the while, controlled keyboard and effects swirls, vocals, bass and drums match pace with the guitar, giving a forward mentality consistent with what’s come before but stretching beyond prior limits. At around 10 minutes, the noise wash arrives to carry Amoretum Vol. 2 to its finish, ring-outs and crashes marking the end of the band’s journey. They might’ve been able to do a Vol. 3 if they wanted, but there’s little question left as to the fact that they’ve finished Vol. 2.

These are interesting and in some ways deeply trying times. Alliances that have lasted decades are dissipating. Centers of global power and leadership are shifting. Not all changes are for the better, and that’s a vicious, vicious understatement. Black Space Riders seem to be offering a reminder of the human center of all the sociopolitical goings on — that it’s not just about vague or even concrete notions of policy, or populism, or economics, but about people living their lives and working to make the world around them a little better for their being there. “In Our Garden” reminds of this with its peaceful and methodical drift, as does the urgency of Amoretum Vol. 2 earlier going. It may well be that the album is looking to convey the idea of the place where love grows, and if so, all the better, since love and passion are so obviously behind the creative spirit that birthed it in the first place.

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Black Space Riders Set July 27 Release Date for Amoretum Vol. 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

Reliably unpredictable German progressive heavy rockers Black Space Riders have set a July issue date for the second installment of the apparently two (you know, so far) part series of Amoretum full-lengths. The first, Amoretum Vol. 1 (review here), landed on Jan. 26, so it’s fitting that Amoretum Vol. 2 should come precisely six months later. Always equal parts adventurous in their craft and structured in their output, Black Space Riders rarely seem more comfortable than when they’re reaching outside the comforts of genre confines, and if you heard the first volume of Amoretum, you already know they’re pushing further out than ever before.

I did a track premiere for Amoretum Vol. 1 and have put in a request to do one for Vol. 2 as well because I believe in what this band is doing, in all its go-anywhere-anytime outside-the-boxness. Album art and details came down the PR wire:

black space riders amoretum vol 2

BLACK SPACE RIDERS Announce July Release of Amoretum Vol. 2

What, already?

Fresh on the heels of the January 2018 release of Amoretum Vol. 1, German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS are set to return with its follow-up, Amoretum Vol. 2.

The songs on Amoretum Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 were all written over a three-month period, and subsequently recorded and produced in a single rush of creativity. The band decided to release the more than two hours of music that came from their mid-2017 writing session in two different parts. As BLACK SPACE RIDERS’ 6th album, Amoretum Vol. 2 is a continuation – a second book – but it also exists as a completely autonomous work.

Is Vol. 2 the rebellious older sister of Vol. 1, or the young, untamed brother? Maybe …

Amoretum Vol. 2 explores the tension between darkness (fear, hate, rejection) and light (empathy, love, acceptance). The albums were titled Amoretum – a blend of “Amor” (or Cupid, as translated from German) and “Arboretum” – as a symbolic reference to the sanctuary of nature and love. While this concept applies to both albums, Vol. 2 is a storm raging through the Garden of Love!

A wild, 14-track ride awaits. Hard, fast heavy rockers morph into new wave indie sounds and even postpunk loses its “post.” Psychedelic triphop meets dub reggae roots and then ends in a loud rush of psychedelic riffs.

Sonically, Vol. 2 delivers a massive, atmospheric, hypnotic, sometimes raw and sometimes tender sound. This, with all the joy of experimentation, is held together by a band that never wants to stop. With all the movement and all the detours, Vol. 2 still manages to sound like one coherent entity. The common thread is in the sound, groove, melody and atmosphere that permeates everything and leads you through this epic journey.

BLACK SPACE RIDERS will release Amoretum Vol. 2 July 27 on double vinyl (w/ CD), digisleeve CD and digital formats.

Amoretum Vol. 2 Tracklist:

Chapter Three:
Before My Eyes
Lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove Love (Break the Pattern Of Fear)
Walls Away
Slaínte (Salud, Dinero, Amor)
Assimilating Love

Chapter Four:
In Our Garden
Leaves of Life (Falling Down)
Body Move

Chapter Five:
Take Me to The Stars
Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. I (The Ugly Corruptor)
Ch Ch Ch Ch Pt. II (Living In My Dream)

Chapter Six:
Chain Reaction
No Way
The Wait Is Never Over

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Piano, Electronics
SEB: Lead vocals, Keyboards, Electronics
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion, Didgeridoo
SLI: Guitars
MEI: Bass Guitar

upcoming BLACK SPACE RIDERS Shows :
29.06.2018 Osnabrück – Bastard Club
30.08.2018 Köln – MTC
31.08.2018 Giessen – Jokus
01.09.2018 Jena – Kulturbahnhof
08.09.2018 Münster – Sputnikhalle
01.11.2018 Mannheim – 7er Club
02.11.2018 Wien – Das Bach
03.11.2018 Hösacker – Blackout
16.11.2018 Dortmund – Piano (w\ Samsara Blues Experiment)
17.11.2018 Lingen – Alter Schlachthof

www.blackspaceriders.com
Twitter.com/BlackSpaceRider
www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders

Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1 (2018)

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Six Dumb Questions with Black Space Riders

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on February 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

At this point I’ve heaped praise on Black Space Riders‘ new album, Amoretum Vol. 1, in any number of contexts. There was the initial release announcement (posted here), the video posted for “Another Sort of Homecoming” (posted here), the review and track premiere for “Lovely Lovelie” (review here) that went up last month, then another video, this one for the electro-jazz hypnosis of “Movements” (posted here), and even a couple weeks ago a vinyl giveaway set up through the band themselves (posted here).

And you know what? If Black Space Riders had another video tomorrow, or a tour announcement, or whatever, I’d post that shit too. The underlying point of all of it is that I believe — particularly for those who can approach it with an open mind — Amoretum Vol. 1 genuinely has something special to offer. I’ll spare you further laudits and no rehash flowery descriptions of the progressive bent that unites the sonically varied material in its expressive purposes and instead just say that I hope the Amoretum series does indeed continue and that if you haven’t yet, you invest a little time and mental energy into getting to know the album, because it is absolutely worth the effort of the real engagement it demands.

As to the actual talking, this time around I’ll leave it to guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE — joined in the band by the silhouettes above of vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and (more recent) bassist MEI — as he explains the motivations behind where Black Space Riders go thematically and sound-wise this time around, their new deal with Ripple Music that will result in wider US distribution of their material, being driven by the music first, letting love rule, and much, much more. He’s obviously someone who cares very deeply about what he does, and I think that comes through here as much as in the songwriting of Black Space Riders as a group.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1

Six Dumb Questions with JE of Black Space Riders

How did the Amoretum idea come about? What was it you were looking to say about the world after Refugeeum? Give me some background on the perspective from which you approached the concept coming into this album.

For us the idea behind Refugeeum was very earthly, very concrete, we felt being between anger and hopelessness, coping with the current events that we were facing in 2014/2015, when we were writing the album. We needed to do that back then, because we felt deeply touched by all the pain and suffering, we had to “leave the orbit” and make a statement.

After releasing the album it was very clear that we didn’t want to repeat that in any way but if you take a look around two years later and notice: “hey, the world didn’t really has become a better place since then …. is it really getting worse??,” you can’t just turn around and move on.

We really wanted to reintroduce some additional joyful, less grave and less serious colours into our music and our lyrics. We wanted to write songs and lyrics to dance to and to smile to ….e.g. I always wanted to write about “love” in a non-embarrassing way. And on the other hand there still was the awareness that we all are moving faster and faster towards really dark times.

In the end we opened ourselves to all these positive and negative feelings and started writing about the confrontation and disunity of fear/anger/hate vs. love/empathy/joy. And once there was this picture of a “sheltered garden of love and blossoming,” threatened by all the darkness around, leading us to create a new word for this imaginary place: Amoretum, consisting of “Arboretum” and “Amor.”

Which came first, the idea for what Amoretum would be or the songs? How does the Black Space Riders songwriting process work for you at this point? Do you compose around a specific idea or improvise and see what fleshes out? How much does everyone in the band contribute?

We are musicians and not poets. The music always comes first. The vocals in our idea of making music are additional instruments and timbres. And when we are writing lyrics it’s sometimes more important how these words sound as a part of the music than the exact meaning of the sentences. We want to create something like a holistic picture, consisting of songwriting, sound, attitude, song titles, lyrics and artwork that may trigger the listener‘s association, that can turn on something like an “inner movie” in the listener’s head. And the music is always the starting point.

After recording the songs for Refugeeum and the Beyond Refugeeum EP we returned to our headquarters — our rehearsal room — and just jammed, recorded, created new music without any pressure, without any idea what will be, without any masterplan.

Our way of composing has developed over the years. For the first albums we were often working on and arranging song ideas that I had designed and drafted before.

Now most of the songs result from jamming and letting flow. But of course there is always a starting point: most times a guitar riff, sometimes a drum pattern or a sequencer pattern or a piano melody. Then usually our drummer C.RIP is stepping in as second and is pushing the idea into a rhythmical direction. First everybody is really listening and is then joining at that point, when he feels, he has an idea what he could contribute and what is missing. In the end every member is contributing.

We record everything in the rehearsal room. We had recorded more than 10 hours of new music only six months after Refugeeum. Our drummer C.RIP is listening and sorting out the ideas and then we continue working on the best ideas and spent a lot of attention in arranging the songs. When we enter the studio we have finished songs with finished arrangements.

Tell me about recording Amoretum. How long were you in the studio? What was the time like when you were there? You’ve been through recording sessions many times over at this point. Do you know what you want in terms of sound when you go in?

This time we recorded all together 22 tracks, almost two hours of music, which took us about two weeks. One to two days are for soundchecking (a good and natural drum sound takes time and as we use a lot of different guitar amps, cabinets and setups in the different songs, we carefully work on these sounds as well). Then about five or six days for live-recordings. This was more than for the previous records but it was so much music with so many details this time. We record all basic tracks live and “oldschool,” in one room: drums, bass and guitars. Good friends locked in one room, that’s good for the feeling, the atmosphere and the sound as well. After that we recorded vocals, additional guitar effects and overdubs (e.g. some keyboards or guitar solos) in another five to six days.

We are working with ROLE in his Tonmeisterei in Oldenburg. (Role Wiegner, http://www.die-tonmeisterei.de/). Back in 2009, I had proposed his studio to the other members for the first album, because I liked some of his recordings, his sound and his philosophy. Since that time we are working with him. He has become a good friend and a kind of additional band member. We know each other very well.

We recorded in three sessions spread over about five weeks. When we are in the studio we are working highly concentrated from 11AM-11PM. It‘s an atmosphere of creativity, friendship, concentration, work, fun and a lot of discussion. After 11PM, we are leaving the studio to find a place which is still serving some food and some drinks. Then sleep in the studio, having breakfast together, working on some lyrics (some of them were written and finished during the recording time) or checking the guitar setup.

Our common idea of how we want to sound and how we can get there with recording and microphone technique is growing and developing from album to album. For the first album we wanted a warm fat analogue transparent classic sound — the contradiction to “modern.” My reference album was Paranoid by Black Sabbath then. So I listened with ROLE and the band members to this album in order to understand what made its production so special. We then also listened to other reference albums such as Tres Hombres (ZZ Top) and By a Thread (Gov’t Mule). That was our first album and the starting point. From then on we never used other external reference albums again to find our way, but we started discussing after we had an idea of how the material on the new album would be, what we wanted to change for the next album. We always first discuss it in the band and then I am visiting ROLE in Oldenburg, play the rehearsal recordings to him and tell him about our sound vision. Then we discuss several ways to get there with different concepts.

For Amoretum we wanted to keep our fat, analogue “soundcore” but add a touch of hi-fi (not too much?!). We wanted more openness, a “bigger” sound: more cymbals, more “room,” like rays of light in the darkness.

Is there a set idea in your mind for what makes Black Space Riders’ style its own? How do you feel about the way the band has progressed since the self-titled? How much of that progression happens on purpose?

We don’t have a masterplan. Neither for our musical “career,” nor for progression or development. We have the privilege to be totally independent so we can do whatever we want. We all have a lot of different musical influences, experiences and favourites, from metal, hardcore, punk, wave, pop, indie to electronic music, trip-hop, funk, jazz, folk and reggae.

From album to album we allowed more influences to enter but still we sound like ourselves. That is something I am really proud of. We can add electronics, funky elements, a dub-reggae feeling and new wave and the result is still Black Space Riders. I believe that is because we have a special signature way we sound, a very groovy rhythmic approach compared to a lot of other rock bands and a special liking for melancholic yearning moods, melodies and atmospheric sound textures.

The progression is just happening. We allow more and more and we like it. And as I said above as our music is increasingly coming from playing together and letting flow. It just happens.

When might we see Amoretum Vol. 2 arrive? Is the next installment written? Recorded? How might it differ from Vol. 1, and are there any lessons you’ve learned from making the first part you’ll bring to the second?

Vol. 2 is written, recorded, mastered and ready to embrace the world a bit later this year. And let me just say you don‘t have to wait until the end of 2018.

We focused on 22 tracks before entering the studio and recorded and produced all of them. And somehow we loved each single track, there were no b-sides in our opinion. The dilemma was: what to do with so much music?

We really thought about releasing a triple-vinyl album like Joe‘s Garage (Frank Zappa) or Sandinista! (The Clash) back then. But who has the time, passion, attention span and is willing and able to listen to almost two hours of music in one piece?

And we want people to listen to the whole album and not only to selected tracks. For us making an album is so much more than to string together a couple of recorded tracks. We want to take people on a trip over the entire record. It should feel like an inspiring, adventurous journey. Creating a permanent flow, a kind of symmetry and a special logic is important for us and this requires the best possible sequence of the songs.

This is a huge challenge if you want to do it for 22 tracks. There are so many options. In the end we decided to split Amoretum into two parts: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

In my opinion Vol. 1 is very compact, diverting, almost accessible; eight tracks in 45 minutes. For a band that is used to release albums with a running time between 60 and 80 minutes, that’s very (cough) “short.”

Vol. 2 has a somehow different character. We are talking about 14 tracks and a running time of a little less than 70 minutes. Very diverse tracks concerning mood, sound, atmosphere style and tempo. Compared to Vol. 1, it’s like a wild hunt.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

No masterplan! Let’s see what is going to happen. Good news for North America: our new collaboration with the California-based label Ripple Music will make this album (and hopefully our back catalogue as well) so much easier available for our friends and fans overseas. What else? My pathetic conclusion: we believe that in the end you can’t fight hate with hate. Let us overcome the fear and embrace the world with empathy. Let love rule!

Black Space Riders, “Movements” official video

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GIVEAWAY: Win Black Space Riders’ Amoretum Vol. 1 on Vinyl

Posted in Features on January 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders amoretum vol 1 vinyl 1

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

This week marks the arrival of the new full-length from progressive metallers Black Space Riders. Given the title Amoretum Vol. 1 (review here) and set for issue through Cargo Records in the band’s native Germany, MVD in the US and various other parties in different regions around Europe and beyond, it’s an adventurous listen that, like much of the group’s work to-date, remains underappreciated for its stylistic reach and accomplished level of songwriting.

Well, I can’t make everyone everywhere listen to everything I think is cool. What I can do, however, is make sure the platter gets into someone’s hands who’s willing to give it a shot. Maybe you’re a Black Space Riders fan. Maybe you’re a free vinyl fan. Either way, I can think of no reason why you wouldn’t enter this giveaway and take your chances at winning a copy of Amoretum Vol. 1, which gracefully brings together heavy rock, prog, metal and a slew of other forward thinking impulses to take an honest and engaging look at the world in which we live. Quality record. You could own it.

I’m gonna keep this post short because I’d rather have you enter the contest than read my blathering. Three quick things: Thanks to the band for offering up the platter to some lucky winner from somewhere around the world, and thanks to you in advance for taking part in the giveaway. Also, as always please keep in mind that I have no interest in storing email addresses, selling info or anything like that. I’m neither organized enough nor devious enough for that shit. I’m just a dude who likes to talk about music and hook people up with free platters when I can.

So yeah, have at it. If you win, I’ll drop you a line a week from today or thereabouts. In the meantime, you can hear some of the record on the Bandcamp player below and chase down more info at the links that follow. Dig in.

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1

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Black Space Riders Post “Movements” Video; Amoretum Vol. 1 out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

If you happened to catch the last Black Space Riders video and you happen to catch this one, well, you’ll probably note that the two have about nothing in common. Ha. I bet you thought I was gonna tie it all together like there’s some overarching narrative or something like that. No dice! Take that, expectation!

Actually, if you want to think about it on another level, there is an overarching narrative between the clip previously posted for “Another Sort of Homecoming,”and it speaks in my mind not just to the appeal of Black Space Riders‘ current album — the forthcoming Amoretum Vol. 1 (review here), which, as the headline says above, is out next week — but also the appeal of the band as a whole: you just don’t ever really know where they’re going to go next.

To wit, “Another Sort of Homecoming,” the video, was based around an old sci-fi cartoon culled from the vast reaches of the public domain. “Movements?” Well, it’s nature footage, man’s interaction with the world around him, alternately patient and manic in its presentation — every bit a different vibe. And you know what? It’s perfect for the two songs. “Another Sort of Homecoming” is an uptempo dancer clocking in under four minutes, while “Movements” turns from its initial post-rock drift to build to furious intensity of chugging before finally evening out atop some still-pretty-frenetic percussive work. Time: eight minutes. The two songs — which on the record are separated only by the catchy push of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” — would seem to have little to do with each other.

But that’s the point. It’s the scope of the thing, and that’s the story they’re telling about Amoretum Vol. 1 and Black Space Riders as a whole. I know this isn’t the highest-profile release that’s coming out this year, but I really think this band has something to offer, so I’m just going to keep writing about them as much as possible. Look for a vinyl giveaway and an interview with the band in the weeks to come.

Enjoy the clip for “Movements” in the meantime, followed by more from the PR wire:

Black Space Riders, “Movements” official video

Amoretum Vol. 1 will be released on January 26. The single can be purchased and the album pre-ordered on all digital platforms, including Bandcamp, as well as at the band shop: www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

Distribution partners:
Germany/Austria/Switzerland: Cargo Records
USA/ Canada: MVD Entertainment
UK: PHD (plastichead distribution)
BeNeLux: Suburban records
Scandinavia: Border Music
Italy: Goodfellas

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Piano, Electronics
SEB: Lead vocals, Keyboards, Electronics
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion, Didgeridoo
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
MEI: Bass Guitar

Black Space Riders webstore

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Review & Track Premiere: Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1

[Click play above to stream ‘Lovely Lovelie’ from Black Space Riders’ Amoretum Vol. 1. Album is out Jan. 26 and available to preorder here.]

Persistently adventurous German astro-prog metallers Black Space Riders seem to be taking stock of the world around them with Amoretum Vol. 1. This was arguably the case as well in 2015 when they examined Europe’s refugee crisis with the Refugeeum (review here) long-player and subsequent 2016 EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), but it’s a fast-spinning planet we live on and, frankly, there’s a lot to consider. Their conclusion seems to be it needs more love. One might advocate for universal sustainable income, an increase in the valuation of pubic education, free healthcare and a broad social safety net funded by a multinational corporate tax rate of 90 percent or higher enforced by a unified governmental body, but I suppose depending on how “love” is defined, they could well mean the same thing.

In any case, if the realization might lead listeners to think Black Space Riders — led, as ever, by guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE and also featuring vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and (more recent) bassist MEI — are making some grand turn toward sonic hippiedom, pushing into peaceful psychedelia to manifest and, well, spread the love, the assumption is simply incorrect. Even unto closer “Fellow Peacemakers” or the earlier “Come and Follow,” the titles of which sound innocuous enough, Black Space Riders maintain crisp, taut songcraft and aggressive execution. Their work, going back through 2014’s D:REI (discussed here), 2012’s Light is the New Black (review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), has only ever grown more complex, however, and as their fifth offering, Amoretum Vol. 1 is no different in this regard. It’s tough to guess where Black Space Riders will go sound-wise, but easy to know they’re always going to be pushing themselves forward.

That kind of reliability is rare, and five full-lengths deep into a prolific career, no doubt the band has elements of what they do that function as a core of their expression. Hooks abound throughout the cleverly-titled new album, arriving early amid the hard-driving riff of “Lovely Lovelie,” which soon enough complements its throaty opening lines with a responding guttural growl — dispelling any notions of adopting a laid back acid rock approach right quick — or the keyboard-fueled “Another Sort of Homecoming,” which is more melodically centered and upbeat in dance-ready fashion. Shifting between styles is familiar ground for Black Space Riders, and the core of progressive songwriting beneath — that synthesized line in “Another Sort of Homecoming” pulls my head right to Astrosoniq every time — is what allows them to tie aesthetically disparate pieces together across these eight tracks and 45 minutes.

black space riders

Transitions don’t always come easy, but there’s an underlying symmetry to Amoretum Vol. 1 that gradually reveals itself as an intention toward two vinyl sides, each comprised of four cuts, and sides A and B do manage to establish a flow of their own as they play through each toward their longest inclusion, first “Movements” (8:01) and later the aforementioned “Fellow Peacemakers” (7:29), which rounds out the album as a whole. Along the way, JE and company set a rich and diverse course, moving from the riffy push of “Lovely Lovelie” and side B’s leadoff “Come and Follow” into the wider breadths of pieces like “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant),” the two penultimate tracks of each half of the record mirroring each other even unto the inclusion of parentheses in their titles. There’s structure and then there’s structure.

That level of self-awareness and consideration has always kept me from thinking of Black Space Riders as a psychedelic band. They’re space metal, progressive and highly, respectably individual in their approach. The more complicated truth, however, is that despite the forward memorability of their hooks and the running keyboard lines throughout “Another Kind of Homecoming” or “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and the maddening chug in the middle of “Movements,” the last push of “Fellow Peacemakers” and the almost hardcore delivery near the end of “Come and Follow,” the post-rock style of guitar on “Friends are Falling” and in moments of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me),” the first half of “Fellow Peacemakers” and even the semi-reggae jangle near the open of “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)” does add an aspect of flourish to Amoretum Vol. 1 that speaks to some measure of drift.

This, however, is one potent ingredient among many in their overarching sound, and Black Space Riders are no more limited by its confines than they would seem to be by any others, including the rigidity of the structures they impose on themselves. Reportedly, Amoretum Vol. 1 is to begin a series of releases functioning in the same thematic territory. One never likes to predict where a Vol. 2 might go in following a Vol. 1, if one surfaces at all, and a group with the scope of Black Space Riders makes doing so an even more potentially embarrassing opportunity to be wrong, but what has been true about their level of performance and craft all along has never been made plainer to see than it is here, and if that’s an expression of love as the band knows it, then it’s little wonder their output holds such resonance. Looking ahead to a New Year that will no doubt be filled with its shares of triumph and tragedy, Black Space Riders seem to have done well in capturing a richness of experience of at least a piece of this dizzying age.

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

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Black Space Riders Post “Another Sort of Homecoming” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

Perennial progressives Black Space Riders have newly made public the cover art and tracklisting of their next album, Amoretum Vol. 1, which is set to hit ground on Jan. 26. The German space metallers will reportedly use their new offering, which follows last year’s EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here) and the LP on which it was based, Refugeeum (review here), as the launch of a series of releases, looking in some way to counter the negativity of the current sociocultural sphere with a sense of positivity, love and — naturally — keyboards.

“Another Sort of Homecoming” is the first audio to be made public from Amoretum Vol. 1, and it pulses with vitality for its sub-four-minute runtime, a quick arrival after Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1the opening track “Lovely Lovelie” gives a surprisingly gruff introduction. More so than the partially-drifting “Movements” or the post-rock-into-prog-metal closer “Fellow Peacemakers” later on, “Another Sort of Homecoming” reminds distinctly of Astrosoniq‘s penchant for blending space weirdness and heavy rock vibes, but it’s just one look of many Black Space Riders ultimately give throughout Amoretum Vol. 1 — for example, they immediately back it up with the grand chorus of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” — so don’t necessarily look for the rest of the album to sound just like this.

But then, that’s never been their way. Black Space Riders have always been a challenge for themselves and for listeners who might want to put them in one category or another, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a huge part of their appeal. They remain defiant in that regard on Amoretum Vol. 1, about which I’ll hope to have more prior to its release late next month. For now, you can see the “Another Sort of Homecoming” video below, followed by more info culled from the PR wire.

I hope you enjoy:

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have revealed the artwork and track list for forthcoming LP Amoretum Vol. 1. The band has also released the official video for the first single “Another Sort of Homecoming.”

Amoretum Vol. 1 will be released on January 26. The single can be purchased and the album pre-ordered on all digital platforms, including Bandcamp, as well as at the band shop: www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

PRE-ORDER the album now: http://blackspaceriders.com/shop

Band: BLACK SPACE RIDERS
Song: Another sort of homecoming
Album: AMORETUM Vol1 (2018)
Music/Lyrics: BLACK SPACE RIDERS (Jochen Engelking )
based on scenes from “SPACE ANGEL”
produced by Cambria Productions, CA (1962-1964)

Track List:
1. Lovely Lovelie
2. Another Sort of Homecoming
3. Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)
4. Movements
5. Come and Follow
6. Friends Are Falling
7. Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)
8. Fellow Peacemakers

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

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Black Space Riders to Release Amoretum Vol. 1 Jan. 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Last we heard from adventurous German rockers Black Space Riders was this past Spring, and the Münster-based heavy progressives were heading into the studio to craft the follow-up to their 2016 EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), which itself was an answer to the previous long-player, Refugeeum (review here), the band’s tendency toward social commentary becoming more prevalent over time even as their sound correspondingly has grown less and less bound by notions of genre in pursuit of its own identity. I’ll admit happily that the description below of what Amoretum Vol. 1 holds in store has me intrigued, and while I’m not necessarily surprised to find them working in a two-part context, because prog and whatnot, I am interested to hear what develops across and between the pair of 2018 outings to come.

The PR wire has preliminary info:

black space riders

BLACK SPACE RIDERS Releasing New Album ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ on January 26

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS are proud to announce the January 26th release of new album Amoretum Vol. 1.

The internationally acclaimed predecessor Refugeeum brought the band renown with its mixture of thoughtful, sensitive themes and hard, atmospheric rock. Two years have passed since then, two years in which the world has not necessarily become a better place in the eyes of most people.

War, terror, displacement, destruction, rejection and nationalism dominate the headlines. Or, as a wise little green fellow once said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“All you need is love”, countered the BEATLES in 1967. The response of BLACK SPACE RIDERS in 2018 is Amoretum, a made-up word comprising “amor” and “arboretum” to symbolize a protective garden and a germ seed of love. And so the new song cycle of BLACK SPACE RIDERS is all about the conflict between fear-hate-rejection-darkness on the one hand, and love-empathy-care-light on the other. For, how else should we overcome hate, if not with love?

Musically, this conflict is consistently put into practice by a band that beats its own path and is constantly developing. The electronic experiments of the Beyond Regugeeum EP of 2016 have been reduced sonically and cleverly integrated into the powerfully sounding songs. Between fat, dirty riffs and trippy delays, everything that sounds good is allowed; the album is interspersed with a flowing groove throughout and an ever-present atmosphere that embraces the listener. Heavy, sometimes proggy, often psychedelic, always engaging and almost catchy and danceable, Amoretum Vol. 1 takes us by the hand, shows us the dark side, and then wants to give us the hope back that we so often painfully miss.

The album flows from song to song as if from a single cast. The listener wonders after 45 minutes whether everything is really already over, and wants to go back to the beginning again immediately.

But of course everything is not over after 45 minutes in the world of BLACK SPACE RIDERS. The band also announces a second chapter for 2018 … Amoretum Vol. 2 is waiting for us, while we are looking forward to Amoretum Vol 1.

Distribution partners:
Germany/Austria/Switzerland: Cargo Records
USA/ Canada: MVD Entertainment
UK: PHD (plastichead distribution)
BeNeLux: Suburban records
Scandinavia: Border Music
Italy: Goodfellas
BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:

JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

www.blackspaceriders.com
Twitter.com/BlackSpaceRider
www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders

Black Space Riders, Beyond Refugeeum (2016)

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