I think that the editor of this esteemed site must be trying to tell me something. I’d barely had time to unpack anything into the latest incarnation of Spenny Mansions when he insisted on sending over a CD that was “just my thing.” I guess the ever longer and ever more grey hair has me pegged as Ave Noctum’s aged hippy in residence, and with more than a few Hawkwind gigs under my stretched belt and tickets booked for the Yes and Jethro Tull 50th anniversary tours of 2018, I guess he has a point. So, what was it he sent for me? Read on gentle reader, read on.
What it was that landed on the doormat was the rather spiffing looking ‘Water Planet’ CD from Germanic instrumental psychonauts The Spacelords (Muthafukkas! Dear Ed., apologies but I’ve been listening to a lot of Monster Magnet of late and it just leapt out!). Whilst an act I’ve not come across before, I have a feeling that they are one whose back catalogue I’m going to get more acquainted with based on this rather excellent offering. Only three tracks make up this 43 minute album, so you might well guess as the album started you’d be about to set off on a psychedelic journey through inner space and outer consciousness, and with ‘Plasma Thruster’, complete with NASA style countdown over the opening bars, you’d be 100% right. Sprawling over eleven minutes plus it managed to combine a heady mix of both Grateful Dead style loose jamming with a musical precision that denotes players who have a solid mastery over their instrumentals.
This obvious ability is even more apparent in the follow up ‘Metamorphosis’, the drumming being tight, beat perfect, almost machine like in its precision, the bass a solid, complex looping pattern, contrasting with the laconic guitar that whilst improvised sounding, is clearly well practised and specifically tailored, the whole threaded through with swirling and howling electronic effects to ensure a dreamlike quality to the whole.
Closing the album is the near twenty minute epic ‘Nag Kanya’, where the aquatic feel of album title ‘Water Planet’ and matching cover artwork comes to the fore. The opening minutes sound like The Doors have reformed and are creating one of their own Eastern mysticism tinged magical ceremonies, the echoing effects and long drawn out droning notes creating a deep sea feeling. There can be no doubt, when a track like this is played live, there will have to be a liquid light show projected over the top. This continues throughout the whole track, a hurdy-gurdy like dirge playing next to jazzy drum beats, and guitar work that occasionally veers from drawn out sustain to sitar like plucking, a bizarre, watery beat playing throughout sounding to this old git like the harmonised vocals of a group of Aquaphibians (those of a younger vintage, put that name into YouTube and watch some of the results; it is a rather niche reference) to accompany the musicians of the band.
‘Water Planet’ is not an album to induce a frenzy of headbanging, a wall of death, or a swirling circle pit, although it would be a nice idea to imagine the ebb and flow of such a phenomenon to the strains of their music; rather the sort of album that is begging to be played in full to a suitably relaxed and mellowed out audience likely to be found at a Deserfest, Freak Valley, or similar gathering where there are flares and tie-dyes aplenty. So, turn on, tune in, and enjoy.