Voyager One - "Monster Zero"
(Loveless Records 2002, lov013)
From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
Seattleís Voyager One has much in common with the shoegazer acts of the 90ís, among them, My Bloody Valentine (is it a coincidence that they release on Loveless Records?), and especially somewhat softer toned acts such as Slowdive and Low. But Voyager One isnít living in the past (even if the lead vocalistís style sounds suspiciously 80ís). Drawing on numerous other elements from electronica, to dub, to jazz, to, yes, good old space rock, Voyager One takes the shoegazer sound to places where, perhaps, it has not ventured so often before.
Witness the mantra-like repetition of the opening track Out in the Marketplace. It gets things going with a crashing percussion loop before bringing deep bass and floating space synths. Another track that definitely breaks the mould is the excellent title track. While it didnít exactly conjure up any visions of old Toho movies for me, it is one of the most interesting pieces on the album; a weird and funky amalgam of jazz and dub that exists somewhere between a smoky late night club and a spaceship full of aliens bent on conquering the world using giant monsters as their weapons of destruction. Very cool stuff. In contrast, the breathtakingly beautiful Snow Angel Summer blends mellow synths, flanging guitars, and moody cello for a few minutes of lazy afternoon bliss. And while the band does manage to rock out, albeit in a fuzzy, slowcore kind of way, on tracks like Wires and Ready, Reset, and their excellent, dark and chilly cover of Echo and the Bunnymenís Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, they close the album off with two idyllic instrumental space voyages, Praise the Lowered and Tokyoidaho.
Fans of bands like Slowdive should definitely check out Monster Zero, but heavier space rockers looking for something a little mellower will no doubt find it a great listen as well.
Visit Voyager One at their web site at: http://www.voyagerone.net.
The Loveless Records web site is at: http://www.lovelessrecords.com.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald