Album Review: Øresund Space Collective, Universal Travels

Posted in Reviews on March 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective universal travels

A look at jams past and jams still to come, Øresund Space Collective‘s Universal Travels is a collection that builds a bridge between some of the space-improv outfit’s earliest days — a studio session in 2007 — and a vinyl edition to be released of 2011’s Sleeping with the Sunworm. It is curated by none other than Øresund Space Collective synthesist and band leader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller himself, and I don’t think the wordplay on “universal” in the title is an accident. As much as they may be journeying across an untamable cosmos of their own sonic creation, so too are these tracks universally journeying. If anything, Universal Travels demonstrates that what one might call the “Locus Coeruleus” — the heart of the brain, as it were — of Øresund Space Collective has always been the outward intention of its craft. Comprised of six tracks totaling a pack-as-much-onto-the-disc-as-possible 79 minutes, the offering is made exclusively via four-panel digipak CD in order to help fund the construction of a studio in which Heller presumably will continue his and the Collective‘s mission of exploratory and improvisational vibing.

These are peculiar times for the interplay of art and commerce in underground rock and roll and its myriad microgenres. Like so much of everything, bands, labels, promotional concerns have been largely devastated by global pandemic financially — not to mention any loss of life — and have had to pivot in order to find ways to continue. That’s not quite what’s happening here. Øresund Space Collective have already wholeheartedly embraced the audience-engagement possibilities of digital media, offering Bandcamp subscription exclusives and self-bootlegs through the Internet Archive for any listeners who’d chase them down, as well as a steady stream of studio jams carved out of various sessions. As the liner notes (by Heller) describe, “Everytime (sic) we have entered into the studio we have recorded between 3-10 hours of material. Over a period of months some members decide what is the best material and we choose to mix this and create albums.” Thus, what one generally hears on an Øresund Space Collective studio album isn’t so much tracked as carved out. A glimpse at the whole. There have been several hour-plus jams unveiled in their entirety along the way — the aforementioned Sleeping with the Sunworm is one, divided originally into three 20-minute parts flowing together — but Universal Travels takes that sense of curation one step further, covering different sessions with various players involved.

The running order as is would not work on any other format — that is to say, if Heller wanted to do a vinyl at some point of Universal Travels, it would require editing and/or reorganization — but it effectively gives an as-it-happened feel to the proceedings, which is common among Øresund Space Collective releases. I know I’ve remarked on occasion after occasion about the band’s direct line to the creative process; their intention to capture a fleeting improvisational moment and find the treasure therein. It’s an ethic that’s grown no less admirable with time, and on the most basic level of listening, whether a session happened yesterday or 14 years ago matters little if at all. “Locus Coeruleus” and “Jam 26” open to immediate fluidity and breadth of vibe. The latter is more serene than the former, though perhaps outdone in that by the lap steel and sitar pastoralism of “Jam 12,” which begins the procession of tracks recorded in 2010. “Jam 12” itself was issued on the vinyl of Give Your Brain a Rest From the Matrix in 2012, and the subsequent “Anthem Rock,” “Santana Jam” and “Awaken” are from the say day of the same session. The same moment being captured, if you will.

oresund space collective universal travels inside

Synth and keys and guitar and sitar and effects gently intertwine on the 10-minute “Jam 12,” and as one might expect from the title — Øresund Space Collective have never lacked self-awareness, like many instrumental bands, when it comes to using titles to provide context or indicate the kind of atmosphere they’re going for in naming their tracks — the subsequent 20-minute splurge of “Anthem Rock” is somewhat more active. It has drums, for one. It also builds to a satisfying peak topped with a guitar solo worthy of both words in the title, as the group assembled careens wildly only to bring itself down at the finish with grace and a last swirl of keys and synth. “Santana Jam” likewise establishes its mood, the keys and guitar locking through a progression that, if it’s not actually Santana — and it might be — is close enough to it. At just over seven minutes, it’s the shortest inclusion on Universal Travels, and has a playful and meandering feel even as the drums enter for solidification. They end up elsewhere atop the original progression, and the jam seems like the kind of toss-off stretch that might happen while players are standing around waiting for something else. You don’t hear that kind of thing on records all the time, but it makes sense with Øresund Space Collective.

“Awaken” is the final piece and, like “Anthem Rock” before it, accounts for 20 minutes of runtime. It begins motorik in the bass and drums and boasts a winding guitar line in the forward position backed by periods of intermittent synth in and out. A mellower trip and wash take hold as it moves through the midsection, and a satisfying stretch of dream-drone melody and gradual deconstruction take hold in the second half. What’s happening there? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s easy to get lost in, and that would seem to be the idea. Certainly Øresund Space Collective are no strangers to such fare, but it’s worth noting that for being an 11-year-old recording, “Awaken” still feels fresh and retains the vibrancy of its creation. That is true of much if not all of Øresund Space Collective‘s work — they are a band out of time as much as out of space — but it is the fundraising/studio-building aspect that is at root behind this collection, and that’s worth acknowledging both as a reality of its making and a symbol of the group’s ongoing commitment to further adventures in sound. There are no shortage of places one might place one’s cash in a spirit of donation these days, but proportionally few that offer such potential in reward for doing so.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller

Posted in Questionnaire on March 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

scott heller

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective & Aural Hallucinations

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I make space sounds using mostly analog synthesizers. Magnus Hannibal from Mantric Muse was the first one to encourage me to experiment with synthesizers. If it was not for him, I probably never would have played synthesizers. My friend Doug Walter (RIP) from Alien Planetscapes was a huge musical inspiration towards exploring and making unusual music.

Describe your first musical memory.

Listening to Chuck Berry with my dad. Later taking the records into my room and trying to transcribe the lyrics. I recently found the book that I wrote them down in (see picture).

Describe your best musical memory to date.

school days dr spaceThis is a very hard question and a bit vague. When I played with Gas Giant in a small concrete bunker club in Leipzig Germany in 2003. The band was on fire, the audience was so intense and into it. I had never experienced anything like that. The power of live music and looking out and seeing these people moving to the sound and we would space out and jam and they were there for every last second and the way the place would erupt when we ended a song or a jam. I was totally blown away. It is hard to describe. I felt like I was levitating! Another was when Øresund Space Collective played the Freak Stage at Burg Herzberg Festival at 23 and just looking out and seeing a solid sea of people as far as I could see. Wow. We played til 3 am with a short break!!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Well, quite recently, when I signed a contract to build my music studio and after 8 months, the builder had not worked one day but only provided excuse after excuse for months on end. I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that they will do what they said they would, especially when you sign a contract. Anyway, I was hugely let down and delayed but this. So not, all people are good to their word, this is for sure, sometimes you can be too trusting of people.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

It hopefully leads to one feeling good about oneself and to unique musical creation. I have always been involved with bands that it is important to make music for the moment. I would not last long in a band that played the songs the exact same every night, as most bands do. I need that feeling of danger, excitement, that you get when you improvise and try new things and experiment with sound. This is progression for me. The same song can progress to something new each night, like with Black Moon Circle!!

How do you define success?

Can I still listen to it and say, “hell yeah, that is cool?” Then I succeeded. If you are speaking in a bit more generic terms, then I would say, “Am I happy, do I make other people happy, am I contributing to try to make the world a better place?” If so, then I have succeeded in life.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Tommy TuTone playing between Rose Tattoo and ZZ Top in 1981. Terrible ’80s pop music after rocking out with Rose Tattoo and waiting for ZZ Top. Totally ruined our mood. That should never have happened.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

My music studio. I hope it will be created this year and I can go on to record so many of the cool bands that I know like Papir, Syreregn, Øresund Space Collective, Elder, Black Moon Circle, White Hills, and more.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Art should take you away from the current reality you are in. Be it a painting that you can look into and disappear or a song that just transports you away. A ballet, theatre, anything where you can forget the fucked up world we have and disappear into it. Then it has served its function.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Starting my new garden this year and seeing if have good success with some new varieties of chilis I have never grown before!!!

http://oresundspacecollective.com
http://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com
http://doctorsofspace.bandcamp.com
http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com
http://www.spacerockproductions.com
http://blackmooncircle.bandcamp.com
http://auralhallucinations.bandcamp.com

Øresund Space Collective, Four Riders Take Space Mountain (2020)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 46

Posted in Radio on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Here’s how I figure it. The usual episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal runs about an hour and 50 minutes. Somewhere between 1:45:00 and 1:50:00, anyhow. That accounts for two voice tracks each roughly three minutes long and whatever promo pieces they want/need to throw in between songs. Okay.

This episode is 1:56:00. So that’s the two voice tracks gone. There’s still some room for a few promo pieces, but I didn’t really feel like talking anyway. I felt like mellow psych jams and space rock, and dammit, that’s what I got. Honestly, if you were to hear me yammering on about how good Electric Moon or Mugstar are, it would add nothing to the experience of listening to the show. You know it and I know it. These jams, many of which are instrumental, speak for themselves, and by the time I got around to AXIOM9, my feeling was a fervent “screw it, go all in.” So we go from Causa Sui easing into the proceedings with the closing track of their just-streamed LP Szabodelico to the 45-minute epic exploration of the final included cut from the aforementioned AXIOM9. And if you’ve got a problem with it, well, you have my permission to go do something else with your life for these two hours. This is what I wanted this episode to be.

If you tune in, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening and reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

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Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 11.13.20

Causa Sui Merging Waters Szabodelico* 0:09:51
Mugstar Ghost of a Ghost Graft* 0:12:16
Hermitess Phone Call Celestial* 0:04:59
Electric Moon Increase Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019* 0:19:28
Øresund Space Collective Summit Four Riders Take Space Mountain* 0:21:20
Face Off September Machines* 0:03:22
AXIOM9 Cosmic Slime Space Debris* 0:45:23

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Nov. 27 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

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Review & Full Album Stream: Øresund Space Collective, Four Riders Take Space Mountain (Plus Video Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Øresund Space Collective Four Riders Take Space Mountain

[Click play above to see the premiere of Øresund Space Collective’s live-recorded video for ‘Descent to Reality’ from the album Four Riders Take Space Mountain, as well as stream the album in its entirety. It’s out Nov. 24 on Space Rock Productions.]

Very often a band like Øresund Space Collective can be intimidating to new listeners, and fairly enough so. Ostensibly Danish, or at least named for a city in Denmark, they can pull members from Sweden, the US, Norway, Portugal and just about anywhere else — I don’t think they’d turn anyone away if the vibe was right — and between shifting personnel, their ever-growing discography, the fact that they’ve been at it for 14 years and that pesky slashed-‘o’ at the start of their moniker, it can be hard for the not-already-ingrained to know where to start. I’ll make it easy. Start with Four Riders Take Space Mountain. Start right here.

Why? First of all, it’s as good a place as anywhere. The group — headed by bandleader, synthesist, studio-mixer and guy-most-likely-to-get-on-mic-and-thank-the-crowd-for-showing-up Scott “Dr. Space” Heller — play improvised, instrumental and unflinchingly exploratory cosmic rock. Veering between the already-blurry lines that border heavy psychedelia, classic-style prog and Hawkwindian space fare, Øresund Space Collective might have up to 30 records in their catalog, and my understanding is there’s even more than that when one subscribes to them on Bandcamp, but none of it is inaccessible once the listener has made the choice to dive in. It’s really just getting over that standing-on-the-edge-of-the-board feeling before hitting play.

And while in some ways  it’s as good for an introductory purpose as any of Øresund Space Collective‘s other studio work — that is, these jams have their own personality to be sure, but it’s not like after however many full-lengths they’re suddenly going to put something out where the chemistry falls apart, though it would be fascinating if they did — Four Riders Take Space Mountain seems to provide an especially warm welcome. The album is a 2LP and the first three sides are comprised of “Approach” (20:55) “Ascent” (20:00) and “Summit” (21:20), so there’s a clear narrative arc to follow that ties in with the title and the sense of journeying (or taking a trip) that is so emblematic of the band’s work on the whole.

That might make Four Riders Take Space Mountain particularly engaging for newcomers, and where some other releases in the vast swath thereof pull from different sessions and offer what feel like extended sections of broader works or are just executed with various aims on their own, the fact that “Approach,” “Ascent” and “Summit” move so smoothly — the transitions are seamless on the CD/DL editions of the album, making the three sides one massive 62-minute jam — and flow so righteously between active and atmospheric sections, with drummer Alex Skepp (Gösta Berlings Saga) and bassist Hasse Horrigmoe (Tangle Edge) holding together stretches of lead guitar, keys, synth, as well as the sheer sense of float that comes with the arrival at “Summit,” means that Four Riders Take Space Mountain is a standout even among the band’s other work in being a joy to follow through its progression.

oresund space collective

Psychedelic effects on the violin of Jonathan Segel (Camper van Beethoven), the keys of K.G. Westman (formerly of Siena Root), as well as the range of his guitars and those of Mathias Danielsson (My Brother the Wind, ex-Gösta Berlings Saga), Mats Orbation and Jonas Berge (also organ and synth), as well as the steady presence of synth from Heller himself, give Four Riders Take Space Mountain its engaging sense of sprawl, and as elements come and go and are woven into the fabric of the proceedings, that feeling of motion gradually becomes more prevalent, from the first outward steps and restless shuffle of drums on “Approach” to the wash that ensues atop it, ultimately finding its chill somewhere around 16-17 minutes in and thereby establishing the dynamic that continues in “Ascent” and “Summit” between ambience and underlying movement.

This isn’t new territory for Øresund Space Collective — figuratively or literally; the sessions for these first three of the total four tracks took place in 2014 — but it is in the clarity of how they’re presented that they’re ultimately distinguished. “Summit” is announced with gracefully winding keyboard and unfurls with strikingly proggy guitar and synth and violin, the band united for an exciting moment around a near-cinematic chug in the middle that evolves into the final section. And even when the guitar lets go and all that’s left is some residual synth drone to fade out, there’s a feeling that at any moment they might pick up again and continue the voyage.

All the more appropriate then to have “Descent to Reality” added to side D. What on the vinyl is unedited appears on the CD/DL as a 17:35 jam with Westman notably moving from keyboard to sitar. The vibe is different, the personnel is different, Tim Wallander on drums, Heller on synth, Segel on violin, and Horrigmoe on bass — no guitar — and the departure is palpable as Westman and Segel play out sitar and violin melodies in a psychedelic raga made tense by the rhythm beneath and psychedelic by the synth above. Like the three tracks before, there are ebbs and flows, and an especially satisfying section of violin leading to sitar in the middle makes it a highlight, and they end in suitably meandering fashion on a wave of synth before a final tom run and strum of sitar.

To say this is Øresund Space Collective in their element is underselling it, but what Four Riders Take Space Mountain does is to take the dug-in nature of their work and offer it in a manner that asks little indulgence on the part of the listener. Some, to be sure — this is nearly 80 minutes of improv psych jams we’re talking about — but the feeling of the album being purposefully constructed and built toward conveying this story is palpable and it gives someone who might be less familiar with Øresund Space Collective a way to orient themselves in the experience, rather than just flying blind in a sea of interstellar creativity. That has its appeal, don’t get me wrong, but for newcomers or the long-since-converted, Four Riders Take Space Mountain brings into emphasis the transportive nuance and reach of what they do. It is suitably moving.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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Finding Comfort in Live Music When There Isn’t Any

Posted in Features on August 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Bands and festivals have begun to announce 2021 dates and all that, but let’s be realistic: it’s going to be years before live music is what it once was. Especially in the United States, which is the country in the world hardest hit by the ol’ firelung in no small part because of the ineptitude of its federal leadership, an entire economic system of live music — not to mention the venues, promotions and other cultural institutions that support it on all levels — needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It isn’t going to be just as simple as “social distancing is over and we can all crowd into the bar again.” Maybe not ever.

You’ve likely seen a band do a live stream at this point, even if after the fact, and I have too. Not the same as a real-life gig, duh, but if it helps raise some funds and keeps creative people working on something and gives an act a way to connect with its audience, you can’t call it bad. I’ve found, though, that with the dearth of live music happening and the nil potential that “going to a show” will happen anytime soon, I’ve been listening to more and more live albums.

This, in no small part, is because there are plenty to listen to. Some groups attempting to bring in cash either for themselves or relevant causes have put out live records in the last few months and made use of the downtime that would’ve otherwise been given to actually being on a stage or writing together in a room or whatever it might be. It’s been a way for a band to not just sit on its collective hands and wonder what the future will bring. When so much is out of your own control, you make the most of what you’ve got.

In that spirit, here’s a quick rundown of 10 recent live outings that I’ve been digging. If you’ve found you’re in the need of finding comfort in live music and whatever act you want to see isn’t doing a stream just this second, maybe you can put one of these on, close your eyes, and be affected a bit by the on-stage energy that comes through.

Thanks as always for reading, and thanks to Tim Burke, Vania Yosifova, and Chris Pojama Pearson for adding their suggestions when I asked on social media. Here we go, ordered by date of release:

Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)

arcadian child from far for the wild

Released Jan. 24.

Granted, this one came out before the real impact of COVID-19 was being felt worldwide, but with the recent announcement of Arcadian Child‘s next studio album coming out this Fall, including From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz) (discussed here) on this list seems only fair. The Cyprus-based four-piece even went so far as to include a couple new songs in the set that’ll show up on Protopsycho as well this October, so it’s a chance to get a preview of that material as well. Bonus for a bonus. Take the win.

Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1

kadavar studio live session

Released March 25.

Germany began imposing curfews in six of its states on March 22. At that point, tours were already being canceled, including Kadavar‘s European run after two shows, and the band hit Blue Wall Studio in Berlin for a set that was streamed through Facebook and in no small part helped set the pattern of streams in motion. With shows canceled in Australia/New Zealand and North America as well, Kadavar were hoping to recover some of the momentum they’d lost, and their turning it into a live record is also a part of that, as is their upcoming studio release, The Isolation Tapes.

Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Øresund Space Collective Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Released April 3.

Of course, I’m perfectly willing to grant that Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 (review here) wasn’t something Øresund Space Collective specifically put out because of the pandemic, but hell, it still exists and that enough, as far as I’m concerned. As ever, they proliferate top notch psychedelic improv, and though I’ve never seen them and it seems increasingly likely I won’t at the fest I was supposed to this year, their vitality is always infectious.

Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop

pelican Live at The Grog Shop

Released April 15.

Let’s be frank — if you don’t love Pelican‘s music to a familial degree, it’s not that I think less of you as a person, but I definitely feel bad for you in a way that, if I told you face-to-face, you won’t find almost entirely condescending. The Chicago instrumentalists are high on my list of golly-I-wish-they’d-do-a-livestream, and if you need an argument to support that, this set from Ohio should do the trick nicely. It’s from September 2019, which was just nearly a year ago. If your mind isn’t blown by their chugging progressive riffs, certainly that thought should do the trick.

SEA, Live at ONCE

sea live at once

Released June 19.

Also captured on video, this set from Boston’s SEA finds them supporting 2020’s debut album, Impermanence (review here) and pushing beyond at ONCE Ballroom in their hometown. The band’s blend of post-metallic atmosphere and spacious melody-making comes through as they alternate between lumbering riffs and more subdued ambience, and it makes a fitting complement to the record in underscoring their progressive potential. The sound is raw but I’d want nothing less.

Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018

sumac st vitus

Released July 3.

Issued as a benefit to Black Lives Matter Seattle and a host of other causes, among them the Philadelphia Womanist Working Collective, this Sumac set is precisely what it promises in the title — a live show from 2018 at Brooklyn’s famed Saint Vitus Bar. I wasn’t at this show, but it does make me a little wistful to think of that particular venue in the current concert-less climate. Sumac aren’t big on healing when it comes to the raw sonics, but there’s certainly enough spaciousness here to get lost in should you wish to do so.

YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

YOB Pickathon 2019 Live from the Galaxy Barn

Released July 3.

They’ve since taken down the Bandcamp stream, but YOB’s Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn (review here) was released as a benefit for Navajo Nation COVID-19 relief, and is an hour-long set that paired the restlessness of “The Lie that is Sin” next to the ever-resonant “Marrow.” Of all the live records on this list, this is probably the one that’s brought me the most joy, and it also inspired the most recent episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal, which jumped headfirst into YOB‘s catalog. More YOB please. Also, if you haven’t seen the videos of Mike Scheidt playing his guitar around the house, you should probably hook into that too.

Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble

dirty streets rough and tumble

Released July 31.

If you’re not all the way down with the realization that Justin Toland is the man when it comes to heavy soul and blues guitar, Dirty Streets‘ new live record, Rough and Tumble, will set you straight, and it won’t even take that long. With the all-killer bass and drums of Thomas Storz and Andrew Denham behind, Toland reminds of what a true virtuoso player can accomplish when put in a room with a crowd to watch. That’s an important message for any time, let alone right now. These cats always deliver.

Amenra, Mass VI Live

amenra mass vi live

Released Aug. 7

Look, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I’m the biggest Amenra fan in the world. I’m not. Sometimes I feel like they follow too many of their own rules for their own good, but there’s no question that live they’re well served by the spectacle they create, and their atmospherics are genuinely affecting. And I know that I’m in the minority in my position, so for anyone who digs them hard, they put up this stream-turned-record wherein they play a goodly portion of 2017’s Mass VI, and even as the self-professed not-biggest-fan-in-the-world, I can appreciate their effort and the screamy-scream-crushy-crush/open-spaced ambience that ensues.

Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Electric Moon Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Releasing Sept. 4.

Yeah, okay, this one’s not out yet, but sometimes I’m lucky enough to get things early for review and sometimes (on good days) those things happen to be new live records from Germany psychonauts Electric Moon. The Always-Out-There-Sula-Komets are in top form on Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 as one would have to expect, and they’re streaming a 22-minute version of “777” now that rips so hard it sounds like it’s about to tear a hole into an alternate dimension where shows are still going on so yes please everyone go and listen to it and maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll really happen. The magic was in you all along.

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Album Review: Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Posted in Reviews on June 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Øresund Space Collective Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

The voice of Scott ‘Dr. Space’ Heller is one of the first things one hears on Øresund Space Collective‘s Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 live CD as the first of the collections liquefied jams fades in behind him. He thanks the crowd, says, “Have a nice trip,” and then, a second or two later, adds, “And kill the white lights!” That pretty much tells the tale right there. Of course, Heller — the synthesizer wizard joined on this recording by a multinational cast of players including Vince Cory and Vemund Engan on guitar, Jiri Jon Hjort on bass, Mogens Pedersen also on synth and Tim Wallander on drums — is talking about the lights hitting the stage, and by killing the white ones, he’s leaving nothing but presumably vibrant colors behind, reds, blues, oranges, yellows, whatever, in order to complement the 90 minutes of swirl that’s about to unfold. And fair enough, as Øresund Space Collective — the long-running improv psychedelic/space jam unit ostensibly based in Denmark but whose members hail from Norway, Sweden, and now Portugal, where Heller himself has resided for some number of years now — have never been anything but colorful.

Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 captures of course a performance at the festival of the same name, based in Worcestershire, UK, and as Heller notes just before the group dives headfirst into the 31-minute “Jam for Gavin,” it’s their first time playing in the country. To say the least, they do it up, and from the funky bass of “SRS Solstice Jam” and the space-proggin’ that ensues through the early stretch of “Jam for Gavin” and the mellower drift that takes hold circa 16 minutes in as they make their way back toward solo guitar scorch and finally a kind of quirky bounce outward over the last few minutes held together by the drums as much as anything, and on through the first of two band introductions and into “Jazz it up Boyzz” — nothing if not self-aware in its title — and the extended closing pair “Solstice Jammers Pt. 1” (14:44) and “Solstice Jammers Pt. 2” (21:12) at the end of which Heller again says everyone’s name the band (a follow-up introduction well-earned on the band’s part), Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 as much typifies Øresund Space Collective‘s mission as any live release could and most of them do.

Whether they’re in the studio or on a stage, Øresund Space Collective jam. There is a reason five out of the six tracks on Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 have some variation of “jam” in the title, and it’s because they fucking jam. And that other track? It’s 35 seconds of talking in between “Jam for Gavin” and “Jazz it up Boyzz,” so yeah. The focus here is clearly on jamming, and as Heller says early on, they don’t have a lot of time for chit-chat. And accordingly they don’t mess around, instead hitting it head-on with “SRS Solstice Jam” and keeping the flow central throughout the entire set. And it should comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with what Øresund Space Collective is or what they do that they’re locked in and their musical conversation is second to none. For a group who regularly record and release their own live shows via the internet archive or Bandcamp, it’s telling when they go to the lengths of doing an actual physical pressing of a live release, and as Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 was initially put out to Bandcamp subscribers — there are a host of exclusive offerings to go along with the steady stream of “regular” ones; this follows February’s Experiments in the Subconscious (review here) studio LP as the second full-public outing of 2020 — and then put on limited CDs for those who’d chase it down, it’s clear they consider it an occasion worth marking.

sonic rock solstice 2019 poster

Fair enough for the performance they got, taking advantage of the multi-track recording by Peter Wibrew (which Heller mixed afterward) to present their freeform psychedelic improvisation as best they could hope to do. With the white lights presumably shut off after the request, the band shine bright just the same, and as they marked 15 years of existence in 2019, and as they were headliners of the fourth and final night of the festival — other headliners included Hawklords and Tir Na Nog — and, as noted, since it was their first time ever in the UK, the party spirit seems certainly justified. The jams are for the most part upbeat, of course with some spaceouts, and though I’ve no doubt that those in the building would say they felt it even more — such is the nature of live albums — but the good-time vibe practically leaks out of the speakers when listening here.

It’s reasonable to assume that if that wasn’t the case, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 wouldn’t exist as it does. No band ever willingly put out a crappy live record. But especially for an act like Øresund Space Collective, whose purpose all along has been to enact an instrumental conversation among players, whether it’s regulars like JiriMogens, or Tim — often just presented as their first names, like old friends — or others who’ve made their way into and out of the group over the years, including members of PapirBlack Moon Circle (of which Engan and Heller are both tenured) or Sgt. Sunshine, the ability to bring about so much consistency in that regard while staying so willfully amorphous in makeup and in the basic sonic pursuit, is nothing to be taken lightly. I’ll admit gladly to being a fan of Øresund Space Collective‘s on-paper mission and in-reality output, and as with the most resonant of their various offerings and offshoots, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 puts together immersive and hypnotic jams that neither fade into the background nor force themselves upon the listener. They unfold naturally, in their own time, and though the band may not have had much time to talk as Heller says, they make their statement without any trouble by the time they’re through with “SRS Solstice Jam” and into the kosmiche launch that is “Jam for Gavin.” This is as organic as the roots of heavy psychedelic rock can get, and Øresund Space Collective make the trip their own as only they can. In times that do nothing if not warrant it, this is my comfort music.

Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 (2020)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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Days of Rona: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

scott dr space heller

Days of Rona: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective, Aural Hallucinations, Space Rock Productions, etc. (Portugal)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, at the moment our concerts in May are in doubt and we might have to postpone them till late summer or fall. Looks like Høstsabbat for Oct 1st will still happen though so that might be one of the few shows we do. As far as I know all the members of the band are healthy and staying at home, probably making or mixing music!!!

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Portugal has taken this very seriously as has Denmark, where a lot of the members live. Schools are closed, bars, restaurants, pretty much everything except small local businesses, grocery stores, gas stations… Where we live there are still no cases reported yet. Denmark is shut down for three;, months. Oddly, where some of the members are in Sweden, it is business as usual. They have not shut down anything much. They also have the most cases of all of Scandinavia. We will see how it goes.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

We have a huge view of the valley where we live and you just don’t see many people out or cars, so I think people around here are being vigilant. I go to the post office every week to mail packages and they only let two people in at a time and you can’t get close to the workers, they have a large plastic window with a gap. As for music, there is no live music at the moment but I am making a lot of music and improving my skills, mixing new tracks, recording for new collaborations (a secret at the moment). My fourth Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip LP –  Space with Bass is still coming out in May. My collaboration with Matt (Ex-Elder, Kind, Queen Elephantine) called Aural Hallucinations will be out on LP, CD and tape around May 1st. A new subscriber-only release of Øresund Space Collective is supposed to arrive this week… So lots still happening..

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We are pretty safe and unlikely to get this virus if we just stay at home since we live so isolated and all my music projects will continue but live concerts will be fewer this year for sure. I wish everyone the best and hope you all ride this crazy virus wave to a safe place and we can all be together again later this year. Thanks to everyone who has bought our music. Peace…

http://oresundspacecollective.com
http://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com
http://doctorsofspace.bandcamp.com
http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com
http://www.spacerockproductions.com
http://blackmooncircle.bandcamp.com
http://auralhallucinations.bandcamp.com

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Høstsabbat 2020: Øresund Space Collective Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

You ever feel like the universe is just doing you favors? That’s me reading that Øresund Space Collective being added to Høstsabbat 2020 this October in Oslo. One could kind of say the same of the whole lineup to this point, from Mars Red Sky right on down to Green Lung, but honestly, the always-improvised jams of Øresund Space Collective are something I write about when I feel like I need to reset my brain or get myself right on some creative level — a kind of refresher and reminder of the vitality of the passion that can fuel a band’s work. And I’ve never seen them live, either. And if all goes according to plan, I will at Høstsabbat. It’s one more thing to make me look forward to this trip in the Fall. I’ve seen Dr. Space jam with other bands, and that’s been cool, but yeah. This is going to be something special and I can’t wait.

Here’s the announcement. I didn’t write it but I tweaked it a bit at the request of the festival:

hostsabbat 2020 oresund space collective

HØSTSABBAT 2020 – ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE (DK)

Space alert!

When space is the place there’s only one place to go. If your only desire is to be captivated in a lush improvised cosmos, your mind altered by the liquid shifts of galaxies, you need to call in the doctor.

Hailing Dr. Space! Come in, Dr. Space!

Known by the terrestrial name of Scott Heller by some earthlings, Dr. Space gathered the Øresund Space Collective together back in 2004. With a somewhat rotating cast of musicians from around Denmark and beyond, the idea has maintained the same; to gather a group of players challenging themselves in long and improvised jams, taking advantage of the energy between them and the playful interaction. It’s a masterclass in borderless music. A sonic conversation set for the heart of the sun, presented to the listener in its most natural state.

The Collective soon found themselves leaders of the European psych scene, and it’s fair to say they’ve remained in that position ever since, consistent in releases but gigging only occasionally mostly due to other projects spanning out from their core.

After years of trying without success, we are proud to have at last established interplanetary relations between ourselves and Dr. Space, and proud to bring these forefathers of Scandinavian spaced-out psych to our church.

Please welcome Øresund Space Collective to Høstsabbat 2020.

TICKETS
http://bit.ly/hostsabbat2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/SFhostsabbat2020

NEWSLETTER
http://bit.ly/NLhostsabbat

Artwork: Trine Grimm Tattoo / Linda K Røed

https://www.facebook.com/events/431138574088425/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

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