Spacehead - "Explode In Space: Inhalations 1998-2000"
(Dead Earnest 2002, DERNCD66)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
The latest from Spacehead is - like its predecessor In Space We Trust - a collection of unreleased material recorded between 1998-2000. There aren't a lot of musicians involved and Commander Spacehead himself, Mr Dibs, handles most or all of the instruments on several tracks.
The album opens with "Nucleii", a song that has much more of a rock ‘n roll feel than anything I've heard from Spachead before. I like it a lot. "Brockstomp" is a trippy cosmic ambient psychedelic tune with soaring, bubbling, and pulsating synths and chanting voices. "Aliens" is similar, but heavy on voice samples that give a live-from-mission-control feel to the uplifting feel of the music.
There's also plenty of classic metallic Spacehead here too. "The Monolith Continuum #" features the trademark Spacehead sound consisting of thundering metallic space rock with a dark gothic atmosphere. At 13 minutes the music jams along a single theme much like early Hawkwind. Bashing power chords, Mr Dibs distinct vocals, and shooting star synths keep the music rolling and a metallic throb serves as a rocking mantra for the brain. "Warriors Of Time" is similar, but didn't grab me nearly as much. On "Repair Your ID", a Dub beat provides the foundation for this thudding heavy rocker. I really like the synth work on this track which has a rapidly whirling UFO sound. But I especially like the way the synths morph and phase themselves like a shifting sine wave. "Repair Your ID" blends smoothly into the 11 minute "Osiris (The Awakening)". A slow dramatic buildup of chanting vocals, voice samples, space synths, and guitar effects soon launches into one of the few full band (four musicians) songs on the disc. An intense metallic space freakout tune, this is the most powerful track on the CD and my hands down favorite.
A couple tracks that are a little different are "Space Race" and "Sacred Plants". "Space Race" is a solo piece from Martyn Needham whom many of you may know from Dr. Hasbeen. It's an electronic tune with a dancey beat and reminds me a bit of Harvey Bainbridge's solo works. I'm guessing this was written some time ago as throughout the track a voice sample talks of the cold war between the USA and the now-defunct USSR escalating into the space. (Or maybe Martyn thinks the Russians are still interested or can afford to do that.) Finally, "Sacred Plants" is totally unlike anything I've heard from Spacehead, being a DJ techno trance tune with a swirling spacey edge.
In summary, Explode Into Space is classic Spacehead, offering no more or less than previous efforts. That is, if you liked In Space We Trust than you're guaranteed to enjoy this one. And like In Space We Trust, it is intended as a preview to the long overdue studio follow-up to the first Spacehead CD, Of Stars And Time, and will be titled Escape Velocity. There aren't a lot of bands playing kick ass heavy SPACE rock so grab this and get yourself a full slab of the truly cosmic and brain pounding stuff.
For more information you can visit the Spacehead web site at: http://www.spacehead.iwarp.com/. Explode into space is distributed by Dead Earnest. You can visit their web site at: http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/andygee/.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz