It’s always a welcome sight to see a new record label hit the scene. The Weird Beard has been set up by a group of psych lovers who are committed to vinyl and are keen to listen to more great music via that medium. What’s more they’ve picked a great band to have as their debut release.

Regular readers may remember vert:x from the Magnetic North album, which was one of my albums of 2016. That, as far as I’m aware, was the band’s first ‘solo’ venture into wax; so it’s doubly good The Weird Beard are putting this out. I guess you would call vert:x a space rock band; but for me that really only tells half the story. For me they are an moto-electronic band who have space rock elements.

The three track album kicks off with ‘Space Junk’ which, typically for vert:x, launches straight into the groove. From the off you’re catapulted into the near future, this for me is the sort of music that will forever be set in the near future…know what I mean? Above the solid rhythm section there are flourishes of synths and guitar that roam around the track; all of these combine to give it a really feeling of high energy and a relentless driving forward. Drifting in and out of the mix is a sax which gives the track depth and nuance. There is lots going on here, as there is with all the track on this album; but each time I get to the end of the track I’m reminded of early Roxy Music…granted a faster and more dense version but Roxy Music all the same.

At just under eight minutes ‘Space Junk’ is easily the shortest track on the album. Twice as long, and making up the rest of the first side of the vinyl, is ‘Suns of Ra’. As the title suggests this is a less straight forward and more esoteric number. The sound begins in a more veiled sense as if waiting to be fully discovered. There’s the same relentless ‘vert:x’ beat going on in the background, but if this is a journey it is certainly a more mysteriously motorik. It is half way through the track before there is any let up in the intensity, before dropping back and off to the Kraut Hawkwind nebula…really far out!

If ‘Son of Ra’ takes you there, ‘Planet of the Mindstealers’ keeps you locked in orbit. Once again motorik thrusters are locked on and from there on its a helluva ride though, here’s those words again, an intense and relentless sound which hits you like a sonic pulse which really doesn’t let up for the duration. If you like moving to music, and I do, this I imagine is great music to really get inside of and just let it move you (and, of course, you can still let it do that and remain static), the point is that this will just take you off to somewhere else…and that’s always a good thing.

This, then, is an album that grabs you from the outset and doesn’t let go for the next fifty  minutes or so. It is intense space rock that I imagine will serve up something new with every listen. As such I think that The Weird Beard have chosen well in getting vert:x in for their first release. They are a band whose full-length vinyl debut has been long overdue and I really look forward to hearing these track via that medium because I’m sure that they are going to be even more intense and nuanced than they are digitally.

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‘from now to now’ is available to pre-order now from The Weird Beard on a limited and numbered run of 250 copies on transparent green and red vinyl.

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