See here for the first Spring round-up, which I called something else and can’t really change the title of now
In Search of Outer Space by Cosmic Fall
I first came across Cosmic Fall last year and it was one of those moments when I just knew from the first few bars of their first album ‘First Fall’ that they were going to be one of my go to bands. This was cemented with their next release of jams which underlined their excellence. Since then they have changed line-ups with Marcin Morawski coming in on guitar, a difficult thing to transition for such an improv-based band who rely on instinct and togetherness to create their music, but from the evidence of this first full release it is something that they seem to have achieved.
‘In Search of Outer Space’ is another fine album of bluesy space rock that, for me, has just the right balance between improvisation and structure. There are flights of sonic fancy that just take you away into your own universe but, and I think this is new for the band, lyrics that sit well within the Cosmic Fall style; which, of course, has moved on to a certain extent. What is also in balance here is the relationship between… if this makes sense… loud and quiet, fast and slow, light and dark. Here are a series of diverse tracks that are really well executed and take you on a series of journeys; all of which have their own pace and style but cumulatively leave you in a happier place than and one of them individually. As such it is an album to be experienced in its entirety if you can… because that’s just how it’s meant to be.
Another winner as far as I’m concerned.
Bells In New Towns by Landing
I’m the first to admit that the, for want of a better word, ‘dreamier’ end of psychedelia doesn’t get much of a look in on these pages. It’s generally not my thing, but there are a few exceptions. One is The Radiation Flowers, while another is Landing. I really loved their last two releases; one (‘Third Sight‘) of which was on El Paraiso, so I was excited to hear what this, their second El Paraiso outing would be like. I think that what Landing and The Radiation Flowers share is hinterland… there is a great breadth and depth to their musical influences that they put through sort of dream-like prism which softens it and gives their respective music a deceptively beautiful quality that both soothes the listener and somehow feeds the soul without ever tipping into kitsch or banalities. Serious music in a velvet glove perhaps.
If anything Landing have spread their wings ever more here taking in a wider palette of influences (the album was partly recorded by seasoned New England rock producer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Elder, Pixies, Sonic Youth)) that results in an album that gives you more than their previous outings. For me this is why I like Landing. Most of the music I listen to is challenging and quite demanding; this is that but also somehow gives quite a bit back. It is, if you like, generous in the way that the band blends the different styles together to remove the abrasive elements. The sort of music when you’re feeling bruised and melancholy but don’t want to be dragged any farther down. I hope that all makes sense.
‘Bells in New Towns’ is available to pre-order here.
Silo by Stephen Bailey
If you’re looking for a really good companion album to listen to with Landing, you could do a lot worse than get this new solo outing from Stephen Bailey; who is perhaps better know to regular readers as the frontman of Australian band Mt. Mountain. Pretty much everything I said about the Landing album also goes for this one in terms of it’s soothing effect wrapped around some serious music. What is perhaps more surprising is that extent to which this is a departure from his work with Mt. Mountain.
We all have diverse musical tastes, but we often seem taken aback when a musician does something very different. Whether we should or not is perhaps moot, because this is a wonderfully executed album that is perhaps a little more low key and acoustic than the Landing one, but no less affecting and effective for it. It is one of those sets where the songs seem quite simple on the first run through, but as they start to take hold you realise that there is more going on. As such it’s going to be an album to come back to again and again. Play it with the Landing, and perhaps some Radiation Flowers, and you’re going to be in for the sort of listening session that you can come away from feeling self-assured and affirmed.
FFF by Zofff
If the middle two albums in this round up go well together, the so do the other two on either side of them. Both Zofff and Cosmic Ground are bands who, above all, like to jam and improvise. Both coalesce around a spacey blues sort of sound… yet they very much have their own distinctive approach. Indeed it is fair to say that of the two Zofff have a harder edge to them perhaps delving into elements of classic hard rock than Cosmic Fall do. Where they are similar though is in their ability to take you off on flights of fancy. The playing here is absolutely superb with build-ups that reach very high highs, such as towards the end of long opener ‘Ye’ which is a fantastic reflection of the band’s art.
Elsewhere Zofff exhibit a varied approach with softer space-like tones on ‘Vav’, while ‘Dig’ is as psychedelic as you like with some ace jazz trumpet that gives the whole experience a different dimension… it feels low key yet at the same time you just can’t take your ears off it. There are a couple of shorter tracks here too in ‘Har’ and ‘Ca’, both of which represent a more repetitive approach which I would really have liked to be much longer to really build up the sort of head of steam that the band do when playing live; but I guess that’s me being greedy… especially when the album ends with a monster like ‘Zeta’ which has everything you could want from a band like Zofff with its highs and lows etc… (see Cosmic Fall review above).
All in all this is another superb set from Zofff, another band who seem to go from strength to strength.
‘FFF’ will be available shortly from Deep Distance, keep your eye on the label’s Facebook page for release information (there’s no website) or the Zofff bandcamp when the vinyl becomes available in the next month or so.