Groomlake Danceband - Self-titled CD-R
(Cyclothalmic Personality 2001, CP002)
From Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001)
The Groomlake Danceband produce all their music live and improvised in-studio and seem to have a fairly unusual sound which is of a very slow, minimal, ambient nature, dark and foreboding in mood, rarely melodic or relaxing. What might set them apart from most music falling under that category is that they seem to produce the bulk of the sounds with guitar, some of which is straight cosmic phased tones but they're also constantly creating many guitar-loops on the spot. Another element of their sound is the occasional voice-sample. But despite all this, there often seems to be something generally "missing" to really make it something great. Maybe it's the dryness of the sound or a less obvious mode of structure and development. (Or maybe it's just because I've generally been a bit impatient with ambient music of late.) However it is indeed space-freaky to the extreme, so I have to recommend it for those who can't get enough.
The album begins with the lengthy "The Supernatural Echo", which seems to be building to some intense space-rock in the manner we're accustomed to, but refuses to go there. Towards the end there's some dude whispering who kinda sounds like Tim Leary on Ashra Tempel's "7 Up" album. Sometimes the shorter 3-6 minute tracks seem the most effective, such as "The Face on Mars is Just a Pile of Rock in Another Light", which uses a very spacious synth-loop that really does come in waves. "A Brain in a Glass Jar Wired up to a Computer" begins with a one-minute dance-beat loop, the only instance where their apparently ironic name is literally justified. From there it's more fuzzed guitar and a bunch of gurgly electronics like that which starts off Guru Guru's "Spaceship". "Great Mechanical Whale" starts off with some random funk-bass notes before again going into random space with guitar-wails and synth. "Only a Fool will Hear (Bob Lazar), without a Smile on his Face" is an extensive piece which fires off a guitar loop like an alarm while weird static-y voice samples pop up at times. Later a huge almost-symphonic slowly-advancing-monster effect comes to the fore along with more freaky synth. "Sound007" starts off with someone reciting Shelly's "Ozymandias", if that's of interest to anyone, but seems to be one of the weaker tracks, where some of the loops are of the slightly obnoxious sort, not unlike the Vas Deferens Organization though in a less musical context. "'Til We've Come", the short piece which ends the album, is one of the best tracks, intensely spacey, but more _spacious_ than most of the tracks, perhaps a bit more melodic. I thought this would turn out to be a much more negative review than it's been, but the last and most intensive listen that accompanies the actual writing is sometimes the most impressive.
For more information you can visit the Groomlake Danceband web site at: http://www.groomlakedanceband.co.uk/.
Email at: email@example.com
Sound files can be heard at the band's IUMA site at: http://artists2.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/Groomlake_Danceband/
The CDR is available for £8 including postage worldwide from the band, or from Acid Attack Music; 60 St Peter's Rd; Dudley; West Midlands; DY2 8HS; UK.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg