SPACE ROCK: AN INTERSTELLAR TRAVELLER’S GUIDE.

SPACE ROCK: AN INTERSTELLAR TRAVELLER’S GUIDE.

Music like fashion is cyclical. One minute a musical genre is hugely popular, the next it falls from grace. That usually, isn’t the end of the story. There’s usually always a resurgence in popularity of that musical genre at a later date. This has been the case with countless  musical genres. Everything Krautrock to progressive rock and psychedelia have made a comeback. So has space rock.

Over the last few years, there’s been a huge resurgence in popularity in space rock. This has fuelled by the formation of new generation of space rock bands. Groups like Sons Of Hippies, Electric Orange, Yuri Gagarin, The Spacelords, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Magic Wands, Vibration Eater and Nexatras have introduced space rock to a new generation of music fans. After hearing these bands, many music fans have decided to investigate the origins of space rock.

What would’ve made this voyage of discovery much easier, was if newcomers to space rock could buy a box set featuring some of the genre’s finest exponents. Now they can. Just last week, Cleopatra Records released their much anticipated  six disc box set Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. This is the perfect starting place for newcomers to space rock.

Soon, they will be able to discover the delights  of some of the most popular space rock groups. This includes Hawkwind, Gong, Nik Turner, Ozric Tentacles and Omega. They’re joined by Gilli Smith, Daevid Allen Weird Quartet and even William Shatner and Alice Cooper. The new generation of space rockers are also well represented, with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Electric Orange, Magic Wands, Nexatras, Sons Of Hippies, The Spacelords, Vibration Eater and Yuri Gagarin all making a welcome appearance. So do a number of  groups whose space rock credentials are sure to be challenged.

Among the bands on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide are a number of Krautrock groups. This is a is regarded by some as a catch-all category where a wide variety of groups are brought under the one musical umbrella. Some of these bands aren’t Krautrock bands in the true sense of the word. However, Can, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Popol Vuh, Guru Guru, Amon Düül II and  Nektar have all been previously categorised as Krautrock bands. Other music fans may well disagree, and define their music differently, including space rock. 

Similarly, some of the music on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide may be perceived as progressive rock. Others can be defined as avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, experimental or psychedelia. That may well be the case. Despite that, there’s an element of space rock on each of the seventy-three tracks on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. 

Disc One.

Can are one of several Krautrock bands that feature on disc one of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. Their contribution is All Gates Open a track from their 1979 album Inner Space. There’s a definite a space rock influence to this Krautock track. Another of the Krautrocker bands are Popol Vuh. They contribute the dramatic and genre-melting Sateh Auf, Zieh Mich Dir Nach Das Hohelied Salomos. It’s taken from their 1975 album Das Hohelied Salomos. This is one of their finest albums. The other Krautrock band on disc one is Guru Guru Groove Band. They’re an early incarnation of Guru Guru, who are still going strong today. When they recorded UFO Love in 1969, their career was in its infancy. Recently, UFO Love featured on a compilation of the Guru Guru Groove Band’s music, The Birth Of Krautrock 1969. However, there’s much more to disc one that Krautrock.

Hedersleben are one of the new breed of space rock bands.  Their most recent album was 2015 The Fall Of Chronopolis. It features Gulf Of Lost Souls, which is an introduction to one of the rising stars of space rock. By comparison, Øresund Space Collective have been together since 2004, and are best described as a Scandinavian supergroup. They’re also one of the most prolific space rock bands. The Trichophantic Spire is taken from their 2014 album Music For Pogonologists. It showcases a truly talented band.

The same can be said of the band Joel Vandroogenbroeck went on to form, Brainticket. Before that, he released a trio of albums in the early seventies. Then in 1980, he released Biomechanoïd, which featured the futuristic Sign From Space. It’s the perfect introduction to this pioneering veteran musician. 

Other veterans on disc one include Ozric Tentacles, who contribute Space Out from their 1995 album Become The Other. Another space rock veteran and pioneer, is Nik Turner, formerly of Hawkwind. He contributes Out Of Control which originally featured on Hawkwind’s Space Ritual album. Gong are another group who pioneered the space rock sound, and in 1972 recorded the live version of Fohat Digs Holes In Space that closes disc one of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide.

Disc Two.

Just like disc one, disc two of pace Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide features thirteen tracks. Again, several bands who many music fans would classify as space rock bands. This includes Tangerine Dream, who released their sophomore album Alpha Centauri in 1971. It features Ultima Thule Part 1, which has a space rock influence. However, Tangerine Dream were musical chameleons, whose music constantly evolved. The same can be said of musical pioneers Faust who contribute Parasiten. Their music constantly evolved and they as a result, they continued to create innovative music.

They weren’t alone. Brainticket were based in Switzerland and featured Belgium born multi-instrumentalist Joel Vandroogenbroeck.  They released a total of seven studio album. Their 1971 eponymous debut album featured Watchin’ You. It’s part of a genre-melting album, where Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock shine through in this lysergic classic. Groups like Brainticket would inspire the new generation of space rock bands.

This includes Spanish space rockers, Pyramidal who were formed in 2009. They’ve obviously been influenced by classic seventies, space rock.l That’s apparent on their contribution,  Black Land, the title-track from their 2011 eponymous debut album. Het Droste Effect are another relatively new band. They’re also one of the best. You Know That I Knew a track from their 2015 sophomore album Soar, showcases a truly talented band. It’s similar case with Oranssi Pazuzu, who released their third album Valonielu in 2013. It features  Reika Maisemassa, where Oranssi Pazuzu combine elements of black metal, psychedelia and space rock. In doing so, they pay homage to some of the veterans on disc two.

This includes  Daevid Allen who cofounded Gong. This time he’s with the  Daevid Allen Weird Quartet, and contributes The Cold Stuffings Of November. This is a track from their 2016 debut album Elevenses. However, it’s Omega who are the true veterans of disc two. They were formed in 1962, released their Time Robber album in 1976. It featured Don’t Keep Me Waitin’ seven minutes where psychedelia and progressive rock become one seamlessly. In doing so, they create one of the highlights of disc two.

Disc Three.

There’s just eleven slices of space rock on disc three of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. Again, familiar faces rub shoulders with new names. Two of the familiar faces are Steve Hillage and William Shatner. They covered Rocket Man on Steve Hillage’s  Madison Square Garden 1977. When the album was released in 2015, Rocket Man was one of the bonus tracks. It’ll be of interest to Trekkies everywhere.

So will Hawkdope a track from Italian psych fuzz rockers Black Rainbows. It was the title-track of their fourth album, which was released in 2015. They’re another of the new generations of space rockers. So are The Spacelords, a German band who released their third studio album Synapse in 2014. One of its highlights is Pyroclastic Monster, an eleven minute epic that showcases their considerable skills. They’re not alone.

Since Aqua Nebula Oscillator were formed in 2000, their music has been impossible to define. They combine disparate musical genres and draw inspiration from a variety of cultures, literature. films and art. The live live version of Human Toad on disc four was recorded in 2014, a year after the track made its debut on their third album Spiritus Mundi.

Another of the new wave of space rockers are Magic Wands, who released their sophomore album Jupiter in 2013. The title-track features on disc four, and features Magic Wands at their hard rocking best, as they fusea variety of musical genres.  So do Yuri Gagarin who were formed in 2012. They’re without doubt, one of the finest of the new space bands. Proof of that is At The Center Of All Infinity, the title-track of their 2015 album. It’s a future space rock classic. However, the artist that closes disc three is anther of space rock’s rising stars.

Forty-two year old Federico Farnè has been a member of bands all his adult life. However, he only started writing music in 2010. Since then, he’s been a member of various bands and has released albums under a variety of monikers. Federico is multitalented, and wrote, produced and played all the instruments on rocky, futuristic What Illuminates The Night. It closes disc three and is one the highlights.

Disc Four.

Disc four of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide features another thirteen slices of space rock. This includes  Spaceship, from Krautrock band Guru Guru’s 1971 sophomore album Hinten. This is one of their finest albums, and is the perfect introduction to one of the most underrated Krautrock bands. By comparison, Hawkwind became one of biggest space rock bands in history. Their 1971 debut album Hawkwind featured Seeing It As You Really Are. It was part of an album launched the career of Hawkwind. They featured writer, poet and lyricist Robert Calvert. He also enjoyed a solo career, and contributes Lemmy and I Swallowed Massive Amounts Of Drugs to disc four. Meanwhile, Gong’s space whisperer Gilli Smyth contributes a live version of What Do You Really Want. It was recorded at the Roundhouse, London in 1971. That was way before many of the members of the new space rock bands were born.

Psychedelic rockers It‘S Not Night- It‘s Space were formed in New York in 2010. Two years later, they released their debut album Bowing Not Knowing To What in 2012. It featured Vibration Eater, which heads in the direction of space rock and showcases a truly talented band. They’re not alone. There are a  number of talented space rock bands are based in Europe.

First stop, is the North West England where the Earthling Society were formed in 2004. Since then, this talents band have been prolific, and have released twelve albums. Their 2009 album Sci-Fi Hi-Fi featured EA1729, is akin to a homage to Can. It’s an inventive and genre-melting track that’s sure to introduce Earthling Society to a whole new audience. Next stop is Moscow, where The Re-Stoned were formed in 2008. By 2012, they were ready to release their fourth album Plasma. It features Faces Of Earth, a hard rocking eleven minute epic. For newcomers to The Re-Stoned, this is a perfect introduction to their music. The final leg of this pan European journey takes the listener to Portugal, which is home to the Equations. In 2015, they released their sophomore album Hightower, which featured Sssuuunnn. This fusion of Krautrock,  psychedelia and space rock proves a heady and delicious brew from this new and exciting band, Equations.

Disc Five.

Disc five has a stellar lineup of space rockers. This includes one of the most innovative and influential Krautrock bands, Amon Düül II. They released their sophomore album Yeti in 1970, and it featured Archangels Thunderbird. It’s a tantalising taste of one of the founding fathers of Krautrock in full flight. Since releasing Yet, Amon Düül II have influenced countless bands. This could includes some of the new bands on disc five of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide.

Naxatra are one of this new wave of space rock bands. They were founded in Greece in 2012, and three years later, released their debut album Naxatras in 2015. It features Space Tunnel, where stoner rock meets psychedelia to create a memorable slice of space rock. Equally memorable is Celestial Bums’ lysergic cover of the Rolling Stones’ Child Of The Moon, which featured on the 2015 Cleopatra Records compilation Stoned-A Psych Tribute To The Rolling Stones. 

There are a trio of Finnish space rock bands on disc five.  Dark Buddha Rising is the first. Their recording career began in 2007. Six years later in 2013, they released their fifth album Dakhmandal. It includes L, where Dark Buddha Rising successfully fuse post rock, doom metal and psychedelia. Fellow countrymen Hidria Spacefolk released their eponymous debut album in 2001. A year later, they returned with their sophomore album Symbiosis in 2002. One of the tracks from the album, Kaneh Bosm epitomises everything that’s good about space rock, and indeed, Hidria Spacefolk. The last of Finnish space rockers,  Dasputnik were formed in 2006, and take a differnt approach to music. They released their sophomore album, Cyclokosmia in 2011. It features Orbitary Volcano, which has a progressive sound, as Dasputnik combine fusion, with psychedelia and space rock to create one of the highlights of disc four. 

Another of the highlights of disc four is MKM’s Retorn Al Planeta Imaginari. It’s a track from their 2014 album Ad Astra Per Aspera. A myriad of disparate influences, including art rock, expeiremtal, electronica, Krautrock and progressive rock  combine to create Retorn Al Planeta Imaginari. The result is a compelling soundscape closes disc four, and is sure to make the listener want to here more from MKM.

Disc Six.

Eleven tracks feature Nektar on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. The first comes courtesy of Nektar, a British band who were formed in Hamburg, Germany. Nektar would be heavily influenced by Krautrock. Proof of that is Astronaut’s Nightmare, a track from their 1972 debut album Journey To The Centre Of The Eye. It’s a fusion of psychedelia, progressive rock and Krautrock that launched the career of Nektar. 

Space Debris were formed in Germany in the early nineties. Since then, they’re released twelve albums. These albums have been ispired by psychedelia and Krautrock. That’s the case with their 2014 albim Phonomorphosis. This fusion of psychedelia and Krautrock results in space rock Space Debris’ style, on the title-track. However, space rock like Krautrock seems to be catch-all genre.

In 1980, Chrome released their fifth album Red Exposure. It features a much more expirmental sound that earlier albums. That’s the case on Eyes In The Center. Despite this much more experimental sound, it’s still regarded as space rock. This is sure to provoke debate among conissuers of space rock. So is the inclusion of a live track from Alice  Cooper. B.B. On Mars was recorded in 1969. However, it showcases a space rock sound, and is a reminder of what Alice Cooper sounded like before fame came his way.

Leroy Powell and The Messengers never enjoyed the commerical sucess and critical acclaim that Alice Cooper enjoyed. Recently though, Leroy Powell and The Messengers’ inimitable and unique brand of music has been finding a wider audience. No wonder; given 

the quality of the genre-melting Weightlessness. It’s a track from 

the 2015 album The Overlords Of The Cosmic Revelation. This is the perfect intrdoduction to Leroy Powell and The Messengers.

One of the finest and most prolific of the new wave of space rock bands are Electric Orange. They were founded in 1992, and since then, have released over twenty albums. These albums feature a mixture of musical genres, including Krautrock and psychedelia. They’re combined successfully on Meals Of Confusion, which is a tantalising taste of what’s awaiting the newcomer to space rock pioneers Electric Orange.

Two Russian bands feature on disc six, including Gdeva, who were formed in Saint-Petersburg in 2005. They recorded Autobahn for their 2007 debut album Bubbles, Bubbles… Elements of post rock, psychedlia and progressive rock are combined scucessfully on Autobahn, and create a captivating, genre-melting track. The other Russian band are Vespero. They were formed in Astrakhan, in Southern Russia in 2003. Since then, they’ve been a prolific band, relsasing fourteen studio album. This incldues their 2015 album Fitful Slumber Until 5 AM . It features Vision 7. Kidish Hail where Vespero showcase and talent as they combine folk rock meets jazz, Krautrock, psychedlela and progressive rock on what’s one of the highlighs of disc six.

Alas, the final track on disc six of Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is one that will divide opinion and indeed, disappoint. That’s the 1975 Interview with Nik Turner. While he’s played an important part in the devlopment of space rock, the interview has no place on the compilation. It’s adition is a mistake. It’s nearly eleven minutes that could’ve been given over to music. This is eleven minutes you’ll never get back.

Apart from the interview with Nik Turner,  Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is the perfect inroduction to space rock. This six CD box set could very well be the start of a voyage of discovery through the history of space rock. Forty-seven years worth of music features on the six discs, and features familiar faces and new names. All of them are referred to as space rockers. That will provoke debate anong some music historians and indeed, music fans.

Some of these bands on Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide weren’t originally aren’t know as space rock bands. This incldues Can, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Popol Vuh, Guru Guru andAmon Düül II. Their music has often been described as Krautrock. However, many music fans will debate this. Faust and Tangerine Dream’s constantly evolved throughout their career. So did Popol Vuh’s. That’s why many music historians are so reluctant to 

label many of these bands definitively.

What is Krautrock to one person, could be regarded differently by another. It’s all a matter of interpretation.That’s the case throughout Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide. 

Many of the bands in the box set combine several different genres. This includes everything from avant-garde, Berlin School, doom metal, electronica, experimental, free jazz, Krautrock, progressive rock,  psychedelia and of course space rock. With several musical genres being combined by bands on the one song, many music fans will struggle to define the musical genre that they’re listening to. Some may even disagree with the use of words space rock on some of the tracks. However, on nearly every track, there’s at least a hint of space rock. That’s the case throughout Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide.

For newcomers to space rock, then Cleopatra Records’ six CD box set, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is good starting point. It might result in a voyage of discovery through the history of space rock. Similiarly, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide could be the start of lifelong love affair with space rock. Espeically, for those yet to discover the delights of space rock. For them, Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide box set is everything you wanted to know about space rock, but were too afraid to ask.

SPACE ROCK: AN INTERSTELLAR TRAVELLER’S GUIDE.

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1 Comment

  1. A Monster!

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