So, what is Aerolith? Care of my very amateur science background, without having to looking it up I know it’s a form of meteorite, mainly of a rocky composition. It’s also, therefore, a very appropriate name for a self-defined space-rock band, in this case an instrumental Austrian three piece. As with so much that arrives for review, there’s an excitement that comes from the fact that this is an act I’ve never heard of, and the fact that they sent both their original 2016 eponymous release and current follow up, ‘II’ for review shows a definite flair, and the fact that they landed on the doormat in the form of CDs rather than just a pinged email link definitely earns bonus points.
So, to get the full experience of the band, I popped in the headphones, hit play, sat back and listened to both albums back to back, looking to see not only how the band sounded, but how their sound has developed over the two albums. About 30 seconds later or so my well worn iPod stopped playing, or so I thought. In fact, it had played both albums, but they has somehow either hypnotised me into not noticing time fly past, or just washed over me. Being of an age where the onset of dementia is potentially not too far in the future, this was a genuine worry, and after checking my watch was working and my brain wasn’t melting out of my ears, I hit the replay, and concentrated hard on the music.
‘Aerolith’ on the surface definitely has all the elements that you might expect of some classic space-rock, every track clocking it at over six minutes to a whopping ten minute plus, and suitably trippy titles like the opener ‘Binary Sundown’, or the pun-laden ‘Little Drama Boy’ and ‘Wired Earp’, as well as precisely played guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, complex beats delivered with clinical precision to provide the sonic background over which long swirling interweaving solos were laid. They also weren’t afraid to play with full on synth sensibility, the deliberately electronic sound so beloved of the 80’s coming to the fore; indeed, for a space-rock band, there was far more of Harold Faltermeyer about their style than there was Captain Brock. Despite their obvious musical proficiency, what it lacked for me was some hook to grab my attention, or draw me in, each track seeming almost too precise, too perfect, and just merging one into the other.
‘II’ carries on very much in the same vein, the first track ‘Pacha’ sounding like it could have been the opening theme to some cheesy eighties futuristic TV series; if you’re old enough to remember the likes of ‘Airwolf’, ‘Automan’, or even ‘Manimal’, you would have a fair idea of the sound. ‘Sleeping Bulldog’ goes even further down that route, only missing the “doop-doop” sound of those bizarre hexagonal electronic drums that were fortunately only briefly in vogue back in the day to complete the retro journey to the heyday of massive hair, spandex, and Buck Rogers drop kicking assorted intergalactic baddies whilst a bell-end helmeted robot biddle-biddle-beeped encouragement. ‘Rain Walk’ follows with some heavier riffs over the opening bars that give a promise to some industrial variety, but there are only the briefest snatches of that sensibility peppered through the track, the rest just settling down into the one familiar pace that makes each track hard to differentiate from the next, each just flowing into the other.
Now it may be that I’m being too harsh on Aerolith, especially in light of the fact they are clearly highly skilled musicians who could out play me in their sleep. It may also be, that given a good light show, and some kind of suitable chemical relaxant, like a really good cup of tea (the staff and management of Ave Noctum do not condone any kind of pharmaceutical shenanigans, alright!), it would be a fine live experience. However, most of the time, it just sounded like a tribute album to the works of Glen A. Larson, and if that’s your thing, enjoy.