Various Artists - "Floralia Vol 2" (On/Off Records 1997, NF 004)
Various Artists - "Floralia Vol 3" (Mizmaze Records 1999, WoTCD99003)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
These two compilations may be a few years old but they're so good and have exclusive tracks by such great bands that it's worth giving them a plug. Both are listed as being on different labels, but note that Mizmaze is actually On/Off in a new form, and continues to this day. I'll give the brief skinny on the artists included on each compilation...
Floralia Vol 2 opens with the UK based Moonflowers. I'd not heard the Moonflowers before but this tune has me wanting to hear more. It's a psychedelic song with a jazzy pop groove, but bubbling space synths add a freaky edge to the music. It's pretty wild hearing the combination of the synths and the jazzy flutes. Tribe Of Cro have a track and I'll be damned if I can figure whatever happened to this band who seem to have dropped of the face of the earth. Which is a shame because they were among the 90's best pure space rock bands. Their contribution is right in line with the music heard on Hydroculture, their last release. Dunlavy play trippy acoustic psychedelia. For detailed info check out the reviews of two new Dunlavy CD's in this issue.
Humus and Frolic Froth are Mexican bands related by common members, and these tracks are my introduction to both. Humus' contribution is an instrumental prog rock tune that alternates between crunchy aggression and bluesy jamming. Frolic Froth was far more exciting, and disappointingly short at only two minutes. I was getting into the pounding zheul-ish bass and blistering psych guitar but just as the band was starting to cook it ended.
Earcandy is another project from Dave Tor, whose Mynd Muzic releases I'm well familiar with. This is very much like Mynd Muzic and is among the TRIPPIEST spaced out psychedelia you'll ever hear. Beautiful meandering space guitars and synths paint a multi-colored lysergic landscape. One of the best tracks on the compilation. Wobble Jaggle Jiggle is a UK band that plays raw, heavy rockin' psychedelia with a 60's garage rock feel. Zen is a Turkish band whose music I've heard on a couple other compilations. They play jamming instrumental psychedelia with a definite Eastern flavor. I've never heard of Lo-Fi Sucks!, a band from Italy, but their track reminds me of an acoustic Led Zeppelin I song I can't remember the title of.
Iron Bong and Bag are both related by common members, though these two songs couldn't be more different from one another. Iron Bong's contribution is a strange bouncy tune that struck me as "Don't Worry, Be Happy" with psych guitar jamming along with it. But Bag's track is KILLER acid space rock with jamming trip guitar and synths. Another of the comp's stronger tracks.
TV Dinner is another Italian band that play tasty jamming acid rock with a thudding bass that pummels you in the chest while the guitar trips along. Ole Lukkoye is a Russian band that's been covered extensively in Aural Innovations. Their track is representative of their percussion heavy tribal world music brand of psychedelia. Atman is a Polish band that plays nice acoustic psychedelia. A droning didgeridoo floats along as gentle acoustic instruments pluck out a melodic trippy tune. Anna Nacher is a member of Atman and has a track of her own. I love her voice. It's very powerful and reminds me just a bit of Nina Hagen. The music is similar to Atman but a little more on the experimental side. The great space band Kryptäthesie are included, but their track has no time to development. It's like an intro to a larger piece and ends just as the tension starts to build. Finally, S/T is a German duo who play an interesting combination of spacey and looped electronics, acoustic instruments, and tribal percussion. Another track that's a bit more on the experimental side and has me curious to hear more.
Floralia Vol 3 kicks off with the Cosmic Gardeners, a German band who play beautiful floating 60's styled psychedelia with trippy male and female vocals. The music does have a more modern sound and I love the sitar that plays the main melody line while spacey synths bubble and gurgle in the background. This is really a wonderful song. Amp is a British band that play droning electronic space pop. I say "pop", but there's an experimental edge to the music that makes it a bit more adventurous. And like Cosmic Gardeners, the music has a strong 60's psych sound to it. Another exceptional song. Continuing with the great psych songs is Tom Kazas, who I'd never heard of before, but what little info I've gathered is that he's Australian, a multi-instrumentalist, and has recorded with a number of bands. This is yet another powerful song that graces this compilation. It has a very full wall-of-sound production with trippy guitar, pounding percussion, and a great melody. I really need to find more from this guy.
But in addition to songs there's some outstanding space rock instrumentals as well. Hungarian space gods Korai Öröm have been covered extensively in Aural Innovations and this 7 minute track ranks among their best. PURE undiluted space rock!! If you don't know these folks yet you're missing one of the 90's most exciting space bands. From Texas, Ohm have been reviewed and interviewed in Aural Innovations (see issue #9). This track features 6 minutes of their dark and freaky electronics dominated space journeys. One of the more avant-space tracks on this compilation, it slowly develops multiple layers of synth patterns and combines them into a primordial spacetronic stew. Check out their CD on the Two Ohm Hop label.
In The Labyrinth is a Swedish band that during the extended intro sound much like The Spacious Mind in their quieter acoustic moments. But it develops into a beautiful psychedelic song with tasty Eastern ragas, complete with sitars, flutes, and tablas. Totally trippy! Smoking The Century Away consists of musicians from the Humus/Frolic Froth camp in Mexico. This is an avant-prog instrumental that strikes me as a psychedelic version of Univers Zero and Henry Cow with a strange chamber music feel. There's no guitar but the clarinet blasts off into trip-out territory, leading the dark thudding bass and keyboards into the coldest reaches of experimental space.
This Fluid are a Greek band that plays a funky, hip-hoppy, but totally strange style. Interesting, but one of the weaker tracks on the compilation. I saw Acid Mother's Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. perform live just a week before writing this review and they COMPLETELY blew me away. Absolutely phenomenal! This track is more space electronic than the heavier acid rocking music I heard live, but it's light years ahead of most of the space electronic music I hear these days and does eventually include some freakout guitar. Imagine Forbidden Planet with rhythm.
Magic Carpathians are yet another incarnation of the Atman clan, including Anna Nacher. This song is again similar to Atman, but more sparse and purely acoustic. Le Forbici Di Manitu play quirky dissonant avant-progressive rock. Interesting but I don't feel compelled based on this track alone to seek out more. Ectogram is another band I've not heard before. The song opens with a slide guitar bit that reminds me of Porcupine Tree's "Even Less". But overall it has a minimalist avant-garde air about it. The guitars and synths are mucho spacey and the vocals have a flighty space feel. It never quite develops but there's enough possibilities here that I'd like to hear more from Ectogram.
Tombstone Valentine have only released one full length recording to date, so it's always nice to hear additional music from them on a compilation. I've also been fortunate enough to hear them perform live on two occasions. The band play a meandering spaced brand of psychedelia. The music has an improvisational feel but Richelle Toombs' vocals give structure to the music and transform it into a song. Great trip guitars and droning synths. Finally, Alquima is a solo female artist based in the UK. The music has a New Agey feel but isn't bland or fluffy in the way that tag usually implies. Nice music.
For more information on either of the Floralia compilations you can email Mizmaze Records at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz