Ave Noctem is a site that prides itself about being unbeholden to any payment, any sponsors, and bringing you the best “extreme and atmospheric music”, amongst other goals. Well, Holland’s own, or is that “The Netherlands own”?, I can never tell in this Brexit Britain atmosphere, No Man’s Valley may not be the extreme growling and screaming some expect of this site, but it is pretty damn atmospheric, if the atmosphere you are thinking of is thick with THC, patchouli, and psychedelic vibes from the late sixties.
I’ve never encountered this particular band from the land of lax and very arguably sensible weed laws before, but it’s a given from first listen that they are devoted to sharing the hippy ideal of early Prog progenitors to the masses. Indeed album opener and title track ‘Outside The Dream’ practically stamps their intent on the proceedings, sign posting their intentions to come, delivering a track that is a fluid galaxy width away from the path trodden by the cookie-cutter modern pop artists that dominate the charts and internet with a swirling mass of laconic vocals, Hammond organ, and a meandering sound that wanders into the world of desert rock and well beyond. I somehow imagine if the Oxford English Dictionary were asked to define “stoned” they’d just put a hyperlink in to No Man’s Valley!
The trip carries on hard, heavy, yet mellow and distorted with ‘Eyeball’, a discordant trip into the realm of Jefferson Airplane, all leading into the harder rock of ‘Hawk Rock’. I don’t know if it was a planned tribute, but 2019 sees Hawkwind celebrating fifty years of freak outs to the masses, and this number could indeed be one of their more speed inspired numbers. If this track were not sufficient indication of the band’s intent to travel back in time, the clearly Doors heavy ‘From Nowhere’ sign posts their intent, whilst ‘Into The Blue’ travels the mellow paths laid down by early Pink Floyd, a path so well trod by England’s own Enos, all before the band mount a smoky magic carpet and fly away on ‘Blows’ for full on Jim Morrison worship complete with random drum bursts, organ flurries, and guitar noodling. If ever those who have cleaned their third eye clear missed the chance to travel The Doors’ ‘Crystal Ship’, follow up ‘Blows’ is for you, complete with competing guitars, blasting organ, and the mushroom cushioned crash of vocals and drums.
Right now so much that I get sent to listen to and review, and indeed, so much that I seek out to listen to on album and live harkens back to the days of yore, with Black Sabbath riffs recycled until they are as thin and stretched as the T-shirts a bootlegger waves in a car park. As such, No Man’s Valley can only be lauded for travelling an alternative retro-path. The thing is, with the way that trends seem to come and go, they may well have an entirely new sound for so many listeners, and I can only encourage those who were born in this century rather than the last to appreciate their sound, and having absorbed it, consider researching the sounds that made up my own formative years.