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

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void: Far Outward

Posted in Reviews on December 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors Visions from the Void inside gatefold

deep space destructors Visions from the Void gatefold outside

Deep into the album comes the hook that says it all. “Abandon space and time/Freedom lose your mind.” It’s what Deep Space Destructors have been saying all along, but it’s not until the fourth of the five total tracks, on the aptly-titled “Floating,” which leads off side B ahead of closer “From the Void,” that they actually come out and say it. Their advocacy of that position, however, is writ large across Visions from the Void, which follows less than two years from early 2017’s Psychedelogy (review here) and pushes into new cosmic reaches for the band, expanding their sound and reach along an interstellar plane of surspace, dimensions intertwining as the core trio of bassist/vocalist Jani Pitkänen (also percussion), guitarist/backing vocalist Petri Lassila and drummer Markus Pitkänen welcome a host of guest performers. Perhaps chief among them is Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who also helms Space Rock Productions, which is the label behind this and the last release.

Heller, who also captains the USS Øresund Space Collective, contributes analog synth to all five cuts on the 43-minute LP, but he’s hardly alone here, with Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö adding sax to side A finale “Tyhjyyden Mantra,” Joonatan Elokuu donating synth, mellotron and vocals to the aforementioned “Floating,” and Tyhjä Pää giving further drone and ambience to “From the Void.” The latter two are return appearances, but even so, their coming back is emblematic of the growth Deep Space Destructors have undertaken since their 2012 debut, (review here), and indeed, as their evolution has unfolded across 2013’s II (review here), 2014’s III (review here), 2015’s Spring Break from Space EP (review here) and Psychedelogy, they have only proceeded outward, and Visions from the Void is their most resonant work yet, unfurling with motorik beats and drifting atmospherics along a directed swirl that holds an underpinning of consciousness even as it seems to “lose its mind” along the lysergic meditation. From opener “Psyche Remade” onward, the band only affirms their maturity and their mastery of the spaced-out forms, calling to familiar genre tropes while putting their own stamp on them in craft and manifestation.

There’s little by way of fanfare at the outset. A quick introduction of a winding guitar line starts “Psyche Remade” and within the first 10 seconds of the album, Deep Space Destructors set themselves to the work of melting brains. Their style has never been to completely jam for jamming’s sake, and not that there’s anything wrong with that approach, but the trio’s process has only come to work more for them over time, resulting in hooks that act as beacons along their charted course into the titular void. They’ve done this in the past as well, but Visions from the Void finds Jani a more confident vocalist, higher in the mix and more of a presence even as his voice is coated in a range of effects. “Psyche Remade” has standout lines urging sonic enlightenment, and that frames much of the perspective from which the rest of the record draws, a kind of expand-your-mind-blow-your-mind advocacy the second cut “Astral Traveller” soon affirms in its last line, “Free your mind/Only love can remain,” after six minutes or so of primordial space rock groove and molten synth.

Deep Space Destructors

Tense, progressive and classic, its genre elements are nonetheless presented with a sonic heft that classic space rock could never have claimed as its own, pushing into a realm of heavy psychedelia in its low end that only seems to emphasize the throb at heart in the rhythm and the faroutification of what might otherwise be a straightforward structure. Heller has a marked effect on the atmosphere, but as “Tyhjyyden Mantra” crashes in its nine-minute grandeur to take hold and introduce not only the end of side A, but really the crux of what will follow in the final two tracks, there’s a darkening of mood that even the surrounding swirl can’t contradict. As the centerpiece, “Tyhjyyden Mantra” swaps out English lyrics for the band’s native Finnish, and along with the arrival of Ylijääskö‘s saxophone, it provides a pivotal turning point in the narrative of the record, marking the place where one is given over to the cosmos itself in that embrace of enlightenment, becoming one with dark matter as a necessary step in that. There’s a quiet moment that starts just before the five-minute mark and is soon topped by chants and leaves on a build that I wish was longer, but it accomplishes the purpose the band has for it as is, and soon departs for an effective sax-laced semi-wash that holds out to a graceful finish.

“Floating” starts with the lyrics noted earlier, and makes itself a standout not only through its lyrical quest for freedom of mind and spirit, but through its near-orchestral progressive arrangement. The additional synth and mellotron give further breadth to that which the band has already established — and among those elements, the midsection a stretch of gotta-hear bass and guitar interplay well worth noting — particularly the mellotron arriving shortly before seven minutes in to lend a dramatic feel to “Floating”‘s apex before the return of the vocals ultimately bring it full circle. As the only inclusion to pass the 10-minute mark, “From the Void” is immediately distinct as well, but it’s more the hypnotic initial rhythm that makes it so, and the sense of arrival is multi-tiered. As listeners, we’ve arrived at that moment of freedom so fervently championed throughout the four songs prior, and as a band, Deep Space Destructors have arrived at a new level of presentation and storytelling in their work, creating a thematic arc to convey their ideas across the album’s entirety. That’s an achievement not to be understated, but their execution of the semi-title-track is in no way bludgeoning listeners with what’s happening.

Rather, it rolls out fluidly atop a steady push of drums as bass, guitar and synth craft a nod that’s both psychedelic and a fitting bed for the lyrics, a kind of watery chant that keeps aligned with space rock traditionalism even as the music behind seems to tap into mantra-ism in a different and exciting way. They cap in motorik but still smooth fashion with a guitar solo leading the way out toward what comes after the void. And one supposes that’s really the question that remains. Deep Space Destructors have found this avenue of expression and made it their own. Over the past six years, a steady growth has led them to this point, where the aspects of genre they’ve absorbed have been remade at their will. So what happens now? It does not seem to me that they’re at any kind of end point in their progression. Nothing on Visions from the Void indicates a feeling of being staid. So what comes after sonic enlightenment? Where in the cosmos do we go next? It’s a story that ends and begs further elaboration, and I for one can’t wait to find out in the next chapter from Deep Space Destructors.

Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void (2018)

Deep Space Destructors, “Floating” official video

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors website

Space Rock Productions website

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Deep Space Destructors Set Dec. 10 Release for Visions from the Void; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors

The Dec. 10 issue date for Visions of the Void will put it less than two years since Deep Space Destructors‘ last album, Psychedelogy (review here), and that’s how it should be. Proper space rock doesn’t happen just sometimes. It happens all the time. The universe doesn’t just expand every now and again, does it? Neither should the sounds that seek to portray or at least evoke some semblance of those cosmic reaches. Deep Space Destructors are well schooled on those ways at this point, and they seem to be continuing to further their reach as well this time out with guests like Dr. Space himself — whose Space Rock Productions label is also once again standing behind the vinyl release; preorders are up — as well as others helping further the interstellar cause.

I’m on board for the trip as ever with an asterisk as regards the artwork, but so it goes. Dudes have a history of providing choice heavy psych and there’s little reason to expect anything else this time out.

From the PR wire:

Visions from the Void gatefold front and back

Visions from the Void gatefold inside

Deep Space Destructors – “Visions From The Void”

Release date: 10th December 2018

Deep Space Destructors’ fifth album “Visions from the Void” is released on 10th of December 2018 on vinyl through Space Rock Productions, http://www.spacerockproductions.de , and digitally via universal digital platforms. The print will include 525 vinyls of black, blue and purple colours.

On “Visions from the Void” the psychedelic space rock trio travels even further to deep space within oneself while taking ample glances at the void. The album features five songs consisting of mantras, chants, psychedelic grooves, space rocking madness and progressive twists. Listener should be prepared to have one’s psyche remade while floating on a sonic astral travel through the void.

On “Visions from the Void” pieces of the DSD hivemind are aligned with Dr. Space, contributing analog synthesizers for the whole album, as well as Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö playing saxophone on “Tyhjyyden Mantra”, Joonatan Elokuu Aaltonen devoting synthesizers, mellotron & guest vocals for “Floating”, and TYHJÄ PÄÄ (Void Head) providing analog space sounds & drones for “From the Void”.

“Visions from the Void” was recorded and mixed at Tonehaven Studios by Tom Brooke, while the guest artist were recorded in different locations. Mastering was done by Mojolab.

Yet again extremely talented Markus Räisänen provided the artwork and the gatefold images conjured by the artist will leave no spacehead cold.

Rise to the mountain, leave the Earth behind
Path to enlightenment, salvation of the mind

Side Space:
1. Psyche Remade (8:19)
2. Astral Traveller (6:15)
3. Tyhjyyden Mantra (9:17)

Side Void:
4. Floating (9:48)
5. From The Void (10:09?)

Band:
Jani Pitkänen – vocals, bass and percussions
Petri Lassila – guitar and backing vocals
Markus Pitkänen – drums

Guests:
Dr Space – analog synths (on all of the songs)
Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö – saxophone (3)
Tyhjä Pää (Void Head) – analog space sounds and drones (5)
Joonatan Elokuu – synths, mellotron and vocals (4)

525 copies total on 180g vinyl
– 190x black
– 205x light blue
– 130x purple
Insert (30×30 cm, printed on both sides) / gatefold cover / hand numbered

Pre-order for this nice release starts Tuesday / 20th Nov.: https://www.sapphirerecords.de/epages/61252611.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61252611/Products/%2ALPDSD054

http://www.dsdband.space/
https://www.facebook.com/deepspacedestructors/
https://deepspacedestructors.bandcamp.com/
http://www.spacerockproductions.de
https://www.facebook.com/spacerockproductions.dk/

Deep Space Destructors, Psychedelogy (2017)

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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.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Friday Full-Length: West, Space & Love, West, Space & Love

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Go ahead and file under Øresund Space Collective, I suppose. And while you’re at it, pick up the pieces of my blown mind after realizing that it’s been six full years since the West, Space & Love album came out. Their self-titled debut (review here) was originally released under that banner, but immediately on its own wavelength. The uniting factor was the participation of synth specialist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller in the project, but actually, at the time, two-thirds of the outfit came from Sweden’s Siena Root — those being guitarist/sitarist KG Westman and drummer Billy “Love” Forsberg — so I suppose they were even more “file under” that band, if you want to go by the pure math. In terms of their approach though, well, I’ll say the album’s on the right Bandcamp. Perhaps the last song title says it best: “Sitars in Space.” The notion behind West, Space & Love as a project was that it should be a mostly acoustic psychedelic record. Of course, synth plays a heavy role, but with Westman‘s sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, and bass, as well as a variety of percussive instruments and more guitar helmed by Forsberg, there remains a strong undercurrent of the organic to the five included tracks on the ultra-manageable 44-minute LP. Though, you know, I say “LP” and I don’t think it was ever released on vinyl. Could it be time for a reissue?

Now’s as good as whenever, in that regard, though time doesn’t really matter with a release like this. It’s not like it’s going to go out of style. A spirit of exploration pervades — they take their improvisation-minded cues from their Øresund Space Collective parentage, to be sure; not that Siena Root at this point didn’t do their fair share of jamming — but again, the plane from which West, Space & Love‘s jams came was pretty much their own. And it was mellow. Extremely so. In my original writeup for the record, I talk about it behind a nighttime headphone record. I stand by that 100 percent, but I remember clearly the scenario I was talking about was being up late at night at Roadburn in the Netherlands when I first got this CD and listening to it there basically on west space and love west space and loverepeat for the whole weekend. It’s a freakout, but such a quiet one that it was just the perfect chillout to answer that kind of sensory overload. Six years later, the feeling is much the same.

Listening to “High Rise,” “Kafi (For Your Love)” and “Spirit Blues” on what would essentially serve as side A, the flow is impeccable. From the harder acoustic strum and percussive pulse of “High Rise” through the patient and graceful unfolding of “Kafi (For Your Love)” — every bit worthy of a comparison to Lamp of the Universe, and that’s not a line I’ll often draw — and the tracklist-centerpiece naturalism so prevalent in “Spirit Blues,” each player gets his moment to shine out from the three-piece. Whether it’s Love on “High Rise” and in the one-man-drum-circle during the second half of “Spirit Blues” or Dr. Space with the synth wash at the end of the opener or Westman‘s initial strum of sitar in “Kafi (For Your Love)” immediately taking my mind to The Beatles‘ “Love You To” — where it’s always a pleasure to go — the personality of each player is in full bloom throughout, and the manner in which they meld together to form something new is nothing short of remarkable.

And that continues into “Repetition” and “Sitar in Space,” both of which speak to a self-awareness on the part of their creators. It’s easy to imagine that the last two cuts, both utterly meditative in their approach and spacious beyond even what was brought to bear on the three tracks prior, came from later in the session. They seem to be that much more comfortable and settled into a methodology — especially the closer — but I know nothing about in what order these songs happened in the studio, so that’s just a narrative brought on by the evocative nature of the material itself. That is, that 22-minute stretch is so immersive and even unto its titles feels so conscious of what it’s creating that it’s easy to thread the story that it came after the initial explorations at the beginning of the record. For those interested more by general atmospheres than the circumstances of their creation, consider it emblematic of the pull West, Space & Love elicit generally, and the strength in terms of bringing ambience to life. Because while it is for the most part a quiet album, there’s no doubting the vibrancy of West, Space & Love from front to back. “Trippy” is overused as a descriptor, but there’s a genuine sense of journey in these songs for mind and spirit alike, and whether you let them wash over you or try and pick apart each hand-drum thud, synthesized swirl and sitar pluck, the resonance of the album’s entirety will continue long after play has stopped.

It was enough, I suppose, that Forsberg, Westman and Heller came together again in 2016 for West, Space & Love Vol. II (review here). It was a less acoustically-based session, and had the gag-track “Pig in Space” to pull the listener out of the otherwise hypnotic moment, but was still a worthy follow-up to the chemistry established here, and one hopes it won’t be the last time these three get together, however busy they might otherwise be. Forsberg remains with Siena Root, while Westman‘s contributions to 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) would be his last with the band. He continues to focus on Hundusthani classical sitar music and has performances booked between next week and late September, when he’ll be in New York and Massachusetts both for select US appearances. His latest album, Sonashish, came out last year through Bihaan Music. Here’s a bonus raag from him just because I happened to be on his website and put it on:

Of course, Heller continues to pursue the outer reaches of the known cosmos with Øresund Space Collective, about whom writing has essentially become a means of doing myself a favor over the last several years, as I find their output always to be such a joy to put on and adventure with. I’ll say the same applies to West, Space & Love as well, which it’s been a thrill to revisit. I hope you feel the same way.

And as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Pouring coffee in the dark at four in the morning? What could possibly go wrong?

Sometimes I feel like the late-night/early-morning process of decision making is its own beast entirely, separate from the entire rest of the day. And then I remember things like the fact that I drove out of lunch the other day with my wallet on top of the car, losing it — which only sucks because it was a customized gift from The Patient Mrs. — as well as my drivers license, credit cards, debit card, insurance info, cash in pounds, euro and dollars, and several checks made out to cash, etc., and I remember that, no, I’m a fucking moron all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s four in the morning or four in the afternoon. Points for consistency, I guess?

In any case, I emerged from the coffee-pour unscathed, though I still consider the oh-no-I-can’t-turn-on-the-light-because-I-might-wake-the-baby-who-is-behind-a-closed-door theory specious and ill-examined at best. Fate may have its way with me next time, but it’ll have to wait: this was the end of the pot.

It will be missed.

I’ve been up since two, which is pretty good, considering. Last night was 12:45, for example. I managed to go back to bed for an hour or so at five yesterday, and I may yet do the same this morning, but it’s basically an effort to be done with this stuff by the time The Pecan wakes up. That’s been sometime between five and six for the last month, and especially as we’ve been back and forth between Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey — currently in the latter, until Sunday — my early-morning-get-up-at-4:30-or-five-or-six-and-write time has pretty much evaporated. I’ve made the best of it, and hopefully not too many typos along the way. Nothing is permanent. Someday, my son will wake up without screaming and make himself breakfast. Whether I’ll live to see it, well, let’s not be melodramatic.

By the way, in all the hubbub of traveling and dumbassery, I left my all my meds in Massachusetts. Remember last week when I talked about crying for no reason? Yeah. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Speaking of interesting, I’m kicking the can down the line again and pushing back the Quarterly Review another week. The reason? I’m just not ready. I don’t have Photoshop installed on The Silver Fox yet or a registered version of Word — the former used to making a banner, the latter for keeping track of word counts for the reviews so I don’t fly off the handle and do 500 words for everything — so that’s a thing, and I still have one or two more picks to include for a couple of the days. Getting that laptop stolen in the UK really fucked me up. I hope the dickweed who did the snagging got some decent heroin with whatever cash he got in exchange for it. I’d love to hear from (presumably) him.

So, with the Quarterly Review put off, next week has a lot of stuff up in the air. I’ll improvise like West, Space & Love, but here’s the basic formative plan I’m going from. I fully expect this will change:

Mon.: Saturnia review; Churchburn video.
Tue.: Great Electric Quest review.
Wed.: Black Moon Circle review.
Thu.: TBD.
Fri.: TBD.

Pretty vague. Sorry about that. I was hoping to pull it together on the Quarterly Review and just didn’t get there, so the stuff for the week after, which was half-planned as you can see above, has basically been bumped up. If I’m lucky, someone will feel like premiering something in all that. For what it’s worth, I’ve already got stuff planned as far out as July 31. Just not next week.

However, I remain certain this site won’t go without its due share of postery. There’s plenty out there to cover. To wit, I just checked my email and got asked to do two premieres next week. So things will shape up. I still need to look at Thee Facebooks messages as well. Oy.

Actually, why don’t I go do that. Plus it’s quarter after five, so The Pecan should be getting up imminently and I should put the first of today’s posts live.

And yup, there’s the call. Gotta run. Great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

 

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Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath: The Eyes, Open

Posted in Reviews on June 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Oresund Space Collective Chatoyant Breath

Every time the Denmark/Portugal/wherever-based outfit Øresund Space Collective put a record out, they’re basically sending their listenership and everyone else an invitation to share in a moment. I don’t want to make it sound too flowery, because the reality of the situation is it’s dudes in a room playing instruments, but what the band creates and has created now for well over a decade lives up to the cliché of reaching beyond the circumstances of its making. Always improvised at least to some extent — safe to say every now and then a riff someone thought of beforehand sneaks in there — their music spreads out as vast and as marvelously psychedelic as their runtimes often likewise find themselves extended. With an ever-fluid lineup and an ever-fluid sound, their latest collection, Chatoyant Breath, includes a stopover from guitarist Gary Arce, founder of Yawning Man and pivotal figure in the creation of Californian desert rock.

Issued on a limited CD and LP run via Space Rock Productions, the offering — the title of which refers to the cat’s-eye effect of gemstones; hence the French root, “chat” — comprises five extended pieces all recorded in a single day. As ever, the group is led by synth master and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, whose custom box of wonders with its many mysterious plugs and wires is, also as ever, a galaxy-creator unto itself. Joining Heller and the core of Nick Hill (guitar), Jiri Jon Hjort (bass), Mogens Deenfort Pederson (synth) and Martin Bjerregaard (Gas Giant) on drums is returning player Nicklas Sørensen (guitar; also of Papir), and of course Arce, and together the group ranges beyond two hours and 15 minutes across two discs of positively molten spaced-out voyage. Arce, his tone inimitable and something of which the Palm Desert city council should erect a statue, plays on three of the five cuts, including opener “Peaceful Patterns” (28:37), the subsequent title-track (36:08), which together make up the entirety of disc one, and “Angular Ambrosia” (28:02) on disc two, which leads into the two final jams, “Turbulent Trepidation” (23:21) and “Celestial Sensation” (19:23).

Nick and Nicklas switch up who plays on what — though everybody seems to be all-in on the “Chatoyant Breath” itself — and whoever is involved in whichever given jam, the effect the album has is soothing enough to justify the title of its leadoff, and even as the most active moments of the title-track dip into a kind of upbeat kosmiche reggae or “Angular Ambrosia” rumbles a deeper low-end fuzz beneath the overarching airy guitar notes and copious effects swirl, the shift in the actual amount happening in any given stretch only makes the release more dynamic, rather than detracting from its atmospheric cohesion. One would expect no less from Øresund Space Collective at this stage in their tenure, and though their songs are sometimes carved out of longer jams — further editing is done to make them fit on LP — the group’s underlying mission never wavers: they are capturing the moment of creation as it happens and presenting it to their audience as pure and unrefined as possible. That said, their approach is pretty refined at this point. To my knowledge, Chatoyant Breath is the most recent studio session they’ve had, tracking with the full group in Jan. 2017 and Heller mixing over a period of months afterward.

Oresund Space Collective

Their preceding outing, Oct. 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here), was put to tape in Nov. 2016, and they never seem to have a session that doesn’t result in at least one release, if not more than that. Accordingly, as this is the latest manifestation of their process, one can also see it as the latest step in their ongoing development. Chemistry at this point is a given — the band wouldn’t exist without it — but for followers of the band who may or may not keep up with their regularly-posted live free-download shows in their group on Thee Facebooks, the clearer realization of their methodology is like a status update from another world: “still here, still far out.” As “Celestial Sensation” winds down and seems to inadvertently (and somewhat ironically, given the album’s runtime and the band’s general longform ways) reference the lead in The Eagles‘ “Hotel California,” the confirmation comes through clearly of another successful endeavor and spirited collaboration. It doesn’t directly mirror the beginning in “Peaceful Patterns” or anything like that — somehow that would almost be too much structure — and the personnel has changed, but that ending nonetheless reaffirms the vitality at work behind an effort that remains serene at its heart.

They’ve never been a band for everybody, and their project remains something that not every listener is going to be able to connect with, but as the official and unofficial catalogs of Øresund Space Collective keep growing, it only becomes more apparent how special an outfit they are, and how much they’ve carved out their own place even among psychedelic jam bands. There are plenty of those around, and plenty who take the instrumentalist and improvisational approach as well, but the level of immersion that Øresund Space Collective emit is their own entirely, and the personality they inject into their grooves isn’t to be overlooked, even if they’re serving as a background or atmospheric listen — that is, even if one isn’t sitting down and analyzing every change or shift in “Angular Ambrosia,” it’s still possible to appreciate what’s happening there, and the same holds true for the rest of the record surrounding. The longer Øresund Space Collective go, the more sustainable their ideas seem, and with such an open sense of what they do behind them, their breadth only continues to move itself forward.

Arce‘s contributions, particularly to the title-track, which is the highlight here and practically a full-length unto itself, are a compelling factor, but there’s no question this is an Øresund Space Collective release. Part of that comes down to the mixing itself and the way it integrates Arce‘s guitar alongside the others and the synth, effects, bass, drums and whatever else, but really, it’s even more about the consuming whole of the jams playing out. Øresund Space Collective have their own kind of space rock, and it’s often less about thrust than it is about drift, and that’s the case with much of what’s made it onto Chatoyant Breath. Once again, the band has dug out its own place amidst the stars and cut the engine to see where gravity takes them. As it invariably must be, the answer to that question is it takes them forward. No doubt that will be the case next time as well, and no doubt there will at some point be a next time. Once you’ve left orbit, why come back?

Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath (2018)

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3rd Ear Experience, Stoned Gold: Ways to be Saved

Posted in Reviews on November 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

3rd-ear-experience-stoned-gold

Given the formidable title of Stoned Gold, the latest full-length from Joshua Tree-based heavy psychedelic rockers 3rd Ear Experience is nothing less than an attempt to present the very foundations of the band’s writing process. Or, perhaps more appropriately, it’s a presentation of those roots entirely. The story goes that bandleader Robbi Robb was pulling the group together to work on their next full-length — either their fifth or sixth, depending on what you count — for Space Rock Productions, which also stood behind 2016’s studio outing, Stones of a Feather.

Robb, who leads a rotating cast of players in the amorphous group that may or may not at any given point include Amritakripa, Alan Dude Swanson, Richard Stuverud, Dino Archon, Dug Pinnick, Eric Ryan, Joey Vera, Butch Reynolds, and/or Jorge Bassman, had toured Europe for the last record, had signed a booking deal to go back, and so one imagines the creative juices were flowing and spirits were high. The band would start or end each day of the session with an improvised jam. Something to get the blood moving. A warm-up or a cool-down, and maybe the basis for a song to come together. Not at all unheard of. Well, when it came time to dig through the days’ worth of recordings and piece together the next 3rd Ear Experience long-player, Robb found that it was these jams that best represented the band as a whole and their musical intentions.

Accordingly, Stoned Gold arrives via Space Rock Productions — the label, one is compelled to note, owned by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective — as a collection of these jams, led by Robb‘s own scorching guitar work, with six tracks and just under 70 minutes of righteous desert freakouts, presented one into the next with a variety of personality and presentation to them that feels emblematic of the creative process behind their making.

Structures are way, way open. Vibes are way, way open. The spirit behind Stoned Gold is less like an album and more like an audio documentary — the idea being to bring to listener as close as possible to 3rd Ear Experience in the making. They’re not the only band to take this approach, and one would be remiss to not mention the progressive explorations of Øresund Space Collective here as forerunners of the improv-based heavy psych style, but it’s exceedingly rare for an American outfit to do so and to do so with such abandon as 3rd Ear Experience bring to pieces like the eight-minute title-track or more extended “I am Not Robot (Warm up Jam Day 3),” which follows opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Infinite Unmanifest (Warm up Jam Day 1)” and the subsequent “Iceberg Dream (Last Jam Day 4)” as one of three pieces named in part for when it took place in the session.

3rd ear experience

It’s telling of the mission behind Stoned Gold that the album would launch with a warm-up jam from the first day, since that effectively places the audience at the same starting point — equal footing — as the group itself as they begin to unfold what becomes the immersive, molten flow of the release as a whole. Whether or not “Iceberg Dream (Last Jam Day 4)” marks the end of the recording session as a whole, I don’t know, but it would make sense, and taking the two back-to-back is to hear 3rd Ear Experience shift deftly between classic space rock propulsion, exploratory melodic wash and an ultimate drive into cosmic swirl.

Those two songs alone comprise nearly half an hour of listening, but with as shuffling start of “Stoned Gold” signals before the band starts to weave its way through a couple harrowing turns toward a Sabbathian riff peppered with a couple lines of obscure, effects-laden vocals, it’s abundantly clear that they by no means make up the complete picture of the album’s scope, and indeed that turns out to be the case as “I am Not Robot (Warm up Jam Day 3)” digs into its 13 minutes of post-Hendrix shimmer and dazzle, more of a straight-ahead flow than a build, but underscored by highlight fuzzy bass tone in its midsection and honest enough to keep going even after it starts to fall apart.

It is surprisingly hypnotic in that, and that makes the transition into “No Walls, No Wars” somewhat more jarring. The penultimate cut is probably as close as 3rd Ear Experience come to traditional songcraft on the record, starting out with African-style percussion before cutting out to a solo-vocal verse and resuming its rhythmic charge. Swirls come and go around this central tribalist figure, and where so much of the album is instrumental, “No Walls, No Wars” is full of words, syllables, lines and obscure shouts, met head-on by an ongoing guitar lead, as well as drums, keys and synth, all of which seem to find further emphasis than in any of the previous jams. At 5:20, just about everything except a line of effects drops out and there’s one last verse to bring everything to a head, and the band presses forth once more into the groove at its foundation, fading slowly to let the toms of closer “The Drone” take hold.

Airy, peaceful guitar arrives with a kind of post-rock feel soon into the 12-minute finale, and once again there are vocals early in a kind of meditative spirit, but just after four minutes in, they’re swallowed by a surge of lead guitar and volume, beginning a back and forth of open spaces and consuming solos that continues until the latter finally seems to win out just after a drum pause near the six-minute mark. Less improvised-sounding — and loosely Zeppelin-esque, somehow — that “The Drone” nonetheless caps with a foray into the sonically unknown (some last lines sneak in there as well; don’t tell anybody) could not be more fitting a way to end Stoned Gold, which in its results lives up to the promised vibrancy of atmosphere in the manner it came together.

3rd Ear Experience have essentially issued their listeners an invitation to join them on this journey, which could hardly resonate more in its endgame if it were happening in real-time on a stage or in a studio, and that invitation is well worth accepting for both its realization of concept and the raw experience of the travel itself. Whether you engage consciously or turn off your mind, relax and float down-sand, 3rd Ear Experience‘s Stoned Gold shines bright.

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Robbi Robb website

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Space Rock Productions website

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Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle: Ever Explorers

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective hallucinations inside the oracle

For those who’d enter the vast, dense and nebular quadrant of the galaxy occupied by the ever-expanding catalog of Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle makes for a decidedly convenient jumping off point. Sure, its four tracks and 82 minutes are comprised of massive, improvised works of spacefaring heavy psychedelia, marked out on pieces like “The Oracle Pt. 2” by hypnotizing waves of slowly unfolding and undulating particle drift, a kosmiche cascade that those familiar with the amorphously-comprised outfit spearheaded by synthmaster Scott “Dr. Space” Heller will tell you is just how it goes, but it’s also marked out by a pretty accessible core concept, whereas some of the ultra-prolific outfit’s other recent work, whether that’s 2016’s Visions Of… (review here) and the drone-driven Ode to a Black Hole (review here, 2015’s 3LP Different Creatures (review here) or 2014’s we-made-you-look-up-a-word Music for Pogonologists (review here), might be more difficult to easily grasp.

Recorded in Nov. 2016, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is nonetheless rich in context in that it would seem to be a logical follow-up to/expansion on two other Øresund Space Collective-related offerings — namely the full-lengths crafted by the trio of former Siena Root sitarist KG WestmanHeller and Siena Root drummer Love Forsberg under the moniker West, Space and Love: 2012’s self-titled (discussed here), recorded in 2009, and last year’s West, Space and Love II (review here).

Though Forsberg doesn’t make an appearance on Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, the release does bring Westman into the fold of Øresund Space Collective proper, and his presence on sitar, synth and guitar is quickly felt in the opener “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye,” which at 21:51 is the first of the four side-consuming jams featured, followed by “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” (19:35), “The Oracle Pt. 1” (22:24) and “The Oracle Pt. 2” (18:27), and it’s Westman‘s contributions that most stand Hallucinations Inside the Oracle out as a place for newcomers to Øresund Space Collective to dive into. The sitar, which isn’t the first thing we hear on “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” but is pretty close to it and certainly leading the way, presents an organic core that holds together beneath the inevitable swirl that takes hold from the surrounding lineup of Dr. Space, guitarist/synthesist Magnus, bassist Jiri, drummer Tim, bassist/percussionist Hasse, and guitarist/bassist/violinist/etc. Jonathan, and as far out as the Collective go in these tracks, that core helps set a mood that has a classic East-meets-West (pun maybe 25 percent intended) psychedelic vibe that only makes the surrounding fare more immersive.

oresund space collective

Such is demonstrated when “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” devolves late into a wash of synth noise ahead of the more Tangerine Dream-style synthesized beatmaking on “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective).” There’s no sitar on the second piece from what I can discern, but the synth-fueled thruster fire is complemented by fuzzy guitar and layers of various other lysergic noises, swelling in volume and falling back into the depths of the mix, the very sound of a solar system taking shape from gravity’s pull and the condensation of stellar matter. Circa six minutes, “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” seems to suddenly come apart, but Øresund Space Collective are able to regroup and salvage the jam, redirecting toward a linear build that pays off with surprising thickness as it approaches and passes its 18th minute, thoroughly living up to and beyond its title. And when it’s over? It’s that synth line that remains as the final element to fade out, ending side B with a message of underlying cohesion — a cosmic plan at work.

And so there is. That plan further shows itself as Westman‘s sitar returns for “The Oracle Pt. 1,” his utter mastery of the instrument once more on display in graceful, gradual surroundings that indeed divide naturally as they’re split up — which is to say, it’s not like the jam was just cut in half in a random place; there’s a lull there where the drums seem to end the first part and begin the second, which also finds Westman moved off sitar onto synth and/or guitar. It’s a noteworthy change because it mirrors the dynamic between “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” and “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” back on the first LP, though admittedly, “The Oracle Pt. 2” is less beat-driven than the side B inclusion. Still, the complementary nature of one piece into the next isn’t to be understated, and that it essentially happens twice over the course of Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, albeit in different forms, only makes the album an easier foothold for listeners less familiar with the group’s work or the generally massive scope it encompasses. For those less indoctrinated, it is as much about process as outcome, at least from the point of view of one hearing it.

Øresund Space Collective, as ever, are propelled toward and their music seems to emanate from the very moment of creation itself, the live-captured improvisation serving to represent the root of that moment, the first spark of the Big Bang and all the galaxies it set in motion. “The Oracle Pt. 1” and “The Oracle Pt. 2” represent this as perfectly as any Øresund Space Collective piece I’ve heard since the 45-minute “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door” from Different Creatures (on which Westman also appeared), because as flowing as they are, they’re also incredibly open, given to whatever the moment of their crafting might bring, whether that’s a sitar lead in the first part or the drone-backed guitar exploration in the midsection of the second.

By following these impulses, Øresund Space Collective continue to hone their singular sonic identity and the resonance of their output continues to thrill and entrance in like measure. Indeed, no matter who seems to be involved in a given release, Øresund Space Collective never fail to offer something nuanced amid their overarchingly raw process, and Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is no exception for its progressive and gorgeously executed, extended course. It’s another check-in from a place in the galaxy that teems with such vibrancy and yet seems to only have a single inhabitant — which is to say, they’re in a space all their own.

Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (2017)

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Øresund Space Collective website

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