Pressurehed - "Explaining The Unexplained" (Cleopatra 1997, CLP 9910-2)
From Aural Innovations #3 (July 1998)
Formed in 1987, California's Pressurehed is not only long lived, but has also given birth to Farflung, Zero Gravity, The Brain, Anubian Lights, and been Nik Turner's backing band. On Explaining The Unexplained the band is made up of Tommy Grenas on synths, guitars and vocals, Len Del Rio on drums, keyboards and samples, Doran Shelley on guitar, keyboards and vocals, and Paul Fox on bass, guitar and synths. The CD consists of 16 tunes of spaced out electronics, danceable rock, techno, and cosmically heavy Chrome/Hawkwind adventures.
Heavy on the rock, and waist deep in space, Pressurehed has a knack for beats that make even non-dancers cut the rug. Tracks like "Altitude", "The Long Count", and "We Come In Waves" are toe tappers that are also solid rock tunes with exciting electronics excursions. And "space-techno" may well be a genre all its own judging my "Bluff Creek, And Beyond", "Oxygen Mask", "Incubus", and "Transgression". But there is nothing generic about Pressurehed's brand of accessible space rock. The music is filled with sound explorations and inventive electronics. The atmosphere can even get quite frightening at times. "Mokele-Mbembe" includes eerie vocals and "Incubus" has screams that would stop people dead on the dance floor.
Of course, the heavy rockin' Pressurehed that has backed Nik is also present. "Black Mantra" has creepy, growling vocals and cosmic acid guitar jams to a pulsating, droning synth beat. The songs leads smoothly into "One Who Has Seen" which has more great space guitar. "Berezovka" and "Valiant Thor" are the heavy, grungier rockers.
Explaining The Unexplained would be a great disc to play for the space uninitiated. Recently I played both this and Farflung's 25,000 Feet Per Second at work and while all my office mates ran screaming from Farflung they all got into Pressurehed. Personally, I find Farflung to be more to my taste for pure outer limits, never to return to Earth spacerock. But Pressurehed kicks ass too and among their various band projects these musicians have covered a lot of ground while exploring spacerock's possibilities.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz