Quarkspace - "Spacefolds 4" (Eternity's Jest 1998, Cassette)
Quarkspace - "Live Orion" (Eternity's Jest 1998, CD)
From Aural Innovations #2 (April 1998)
The latest releases from the Quarkspace camp feature the fourth in their quarterly Spacefolds cassette series, and a 70 minute CD featuring the band's performance at the Orion SpaceRock festival in October 1997.
On Spacefolds 4, Quarkspace offers more of both their improv based jams, and their explorations into sound and space. The explorations get better with each subsequent release as the band adds to its storehouse of musical gadgets and toys. "Fall Approaches" and "It Flows To The Ocean" are the jam numbers and shows the piano becoming more of a foreground instrument on their songs. "Chocolate Space Cookies" is the more sound exploratory and avant experimental track, an area that Quarkspace excels at.
The highlight number is "Trinary Space 1 & 2". This 15 minute mind expanding blend of Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream produces an effect that is uniquely Quarkspace. The guitars seem responsible for nearly as many sounds as the keyboards. In parts the sound is both orchestral and industrial, and the music gets dramaticly orchestral at the end. Great stuff.
The Live Orion CD illustrates how important it is to experience this type of music in a live environment, and how this band in particular shines when performing live. Quarkspace is somewhat unique among the current crop of spacerock bands in that they aren't from the hard edged Hawkwind camp, nor can they be firmly categorized in the dreamier ambient space camp. What stands out on this CD is a band whose roots are very much in the classic jam rock camp, but add enough elements of space in their sound, and ambience in the atmosphere to make them a space band. When they really start to cook they have been compared to the Allman Brothers, and there are tracks here that feature this sound. Like the Allmans, each instrument is clearly distinguishable from the others, yet all play cooperatively to produce some kick ass rock music that has the added benefit of blasting the listener into the cosmos. On other tracks I'm reminded of the the glory days of psychedelic stretching out, but with a higher level of instrumental proficiency than was characterisic of many bands in that genre.
Vocal numbers are interspersed with the instrumentals and Chet Santia's voice reminds me of a harder edged Peter Gabriel. This release will mark the first Quarkspace vocal numbers since their 1996 debut CD, and those familiar with that release should note how the music, though in a "song" context, is often just as busy and interesting as on the purely instrumental tracks. For those not familiar with Quarkspace this live performance is an excellent starting point. Highly recommended.
For more information and to hear sound files you can visit Quarkspace at their web site.
More sound files can be found at the band's mp3.com web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz