Quarkspace - "Spacefolds 1" (Eternity's Jest Records/MP3.COM 1996/2001, 93489)
Quarkspace - "Spacefolds 2" (Eternity's Jest Records/MP3.COM 1997/2001, 93497)
From Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001)
The Spacefolds series (now up to 7 CD's) is a collection of instrumental studio improvisations by Quarkspace. Some of the tracks are earlier versions of tracks that would appear later on both studio and live albums, others are unique pieces unto themselves. As such, the Spacefolds series is an important document of the ongoing development of one of the US's most exciting space rock bands of the present era.
Spacefolds 1, in particular, is an exciting re-release for Quarkspace fans. Originally released on cassette in 1996, the half-hour CD documents an earlier sound for the band, before they began to work with loops, sequences, and electronic percussion. As such, it has a much looser, less focused sound than later Quarkspace, but more unpredictable and progressive in nature as well.
According to the band, the three Blackhawk Circle pieces were recorded to impress Randy Meinking and Greg Gough. Even if you are not Randy or Greg, you will likely be impressed. The band skillfully shifts through spacey textures to complex, jazz-like inventions, demonstrating that first and foremost, they have always been a very tight improvisational unit. Especially impressive is Paul Williams' drumming, heard here free of the constraints of electronic loops heard on later Quarkspace releases, including a short but tasty percussive outing with two other drummers (The Drummer's Triangle). Also of interest to fans is a deep space expedition of an earlier take of Faerienot Space, which would later crop up on the Live Orion CD.
All in all, a must have, especially for those fond of Quarkspace's more progressive moments.
Spacefolds 2, fairs less well, unfortunately. Not that there aren't some excellent moments, most of which occur in the first 11 minutes of the 30 minute CD, which comprise the two-part track Original Royalty. Apparently, this began as a jam based loosely on the Prince song Kiss (hence the title), and would later morph into Prince on The Hidden Moon CD. On Spacefolds 2, it's a moody experiment with loops, whooshing, bleeping electronic sounds, and fluid guitar, all of which build to a frantic and rocking finale in the second half of the track. By contrast, Ambient 1 is, well, an ambient piece, as the title so cleverly suggests. It's a pleasant, if not terribly interesting soundscape, featuring a little buzzing and gurgling along the way, until is takes a sharp left turn near the end, with an odd electronic texture from Jay Swanson that reminded me of the psychedelic laughter at the end of the Pink Floyd's Bike. The weak link on the CD (by the band's own admission: "The cheesiest thing we have ever done.") is Go, a funky dance number, seriously marred by an annoying sample of someone yelling the word "go" throughout. Finishing things off on this one is the chunky dance number, Quarkadelic. The song features some terrific guitar work, which, unfortunately, is buried a little too deep in the mix, a habit of Quarkspace's that I've noticed on other albums.
The CD's, released by MP3.com, are in DAM (Digital Automatic Music) format, and contain each of the tracks in standard CD format, as well as mp3 format. Pop it in your computer, and a neat little control panel pops up with not only the play list, but interesting (if scant) notes on each of the songs, and a much more detailed history of the band.
For more information you can visit the Quarkspace web site at: http://quarkspace.com.
Visit their Mp3.com web site at: http://www.mp3.com/quarkspace.
Contact via snail mail c/o Eternity's Jest Records; PMB 212; 1487 W. Fifth Ave; Columbus, OH 43212.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald