Secret Saucer - "Element 115" (2003, not yet released)
From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
I hate to tease you dear readers for the enthusiastic review of a disc that isn't available yet, but these guys are label shopping and the good word needs to be spread. So fasten your seat belts. Because this... is... SPACE ROCK!!!
Secret Saucer are something of a Space Rock All Star Band consisting of members (and ex-members) of Architectural Metaphor, Quarkspace, Star Nation, Nick Riff, Sun Machine, and Blaah. The entire album was recorded in a weekend when the musicians got together, rolled the tapes, and just jammed. The lineup includes Greg Kozlowski, Steve Hayes, Steve Taylor, Dave Hess, Bill Spear, Thom Marianetti, Paul Williams, Jay Swanson, and Dan Schnell, with several of the musicians playing different instruments on various tracks.
The spirits of Hawkwind and particularly early Pink Floyd are all over the music, as are some Krautrock and progressive rock influences. The result is a completely mind-bending set of space rock instrumentals that stretch out and explore the realms well beyond the Earth's atmosphere. And what makes this such a fine set of jams is that the music succeeds in freeform exploration while at all times being structured and goal oriented rather than raw and chaotic.
The CD opens with "Star Rise", a brief but totally spaced introductory bass/synth piece that indicates we're on the launching pad countdown. With "Sword Of Conneaut" we now have liftoff and are steadily speeding towards the skies on this easy-paced tune with a space metallic vibe. Greg Kozlowski and Steve Taylor's dual guitar attack takes us into a blissful space jam realm that prepares us for the impending entry into orbit. "STS-107" and "Astral Progeny" are both standout tracks that feature Jay Swanson's trademark keyboard sound, particularly the Rhodes piano on "Astral Progeny", which gives the music a Quarkspace flavor while Greg's ripping slide guitar trips the stars fantastic.
Among the songs with a Pink Floyd vibe is "Solar Winds". Kozlowski is a master of guitar efx and uses them to create some of the most bubbling, wailing and droning psychedelic sounds ever heard. "Atom Smasher" opens with an electro alien glom of noodling synths, but soon launches into a balls out space rocker with fiery passionate Dave Gilmour styled guitar leads and the space synths swirling around the periphery. "Duul" and "Desert Of Existence" are similar, with the guitar notes on the former reaching cosmically screaming levels of volume and intensity. And "Looking Skyward" is another excellent Floydish jam with a spacey symphonic vibe.
More in the Hawkwind domain is "The Traveller", an interesting blend of Hawkwind and early 70's jam rock, not unlike a space rock version of Derek and the Dominoes. "AMBQSM" is like a spaced out Allman Brother's jam, though an energetic rocking Hawkwind sound ultimately takes over. And "Beyond Time" is a killer Hawk styled jam that closes the set without coming back to Earth. Nope... Secret Saucer have decided they're enjoying the voyage... and we're all staying out there in space jam heaven together. I sure hope this gets released soon.
For more information you can visit the Secret Saucer web site at: http://www.geocities.com/secretsaucergroup.
Email at: email@example.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz