Øresund Space Collective

Review by Charles Van de Kree
Interview by Jerry Kranitz

From Aural Innovations #33 (March 2006)

Øresund Space Collective - "Øresund Space Collective"
(Transubstans 2006, Trans017

Featuring Danish, Swedish and American players, Øresund Space Collective charts astral regions previously explored by Pink Floyd, Ozric Tentacles and others, though the group's eclecticism extends beyond the barriers of traditional space rock and embraces jazz fusion, ambient and many other styles. The overall effect of OSC's first disc is consequently somewhere between the Ozric's Pungent Effulgent, The Orb's Adventures beyond the Ultraworld and Khan's Space Shanty. Improvised and recorded live in the studio, OSC's self-titled debut features a barrage of intense jamming, hot interplay between dual guitarists (Magnus and Sebastian) and a trio of cosmically inclined synthesists (Morgens, Scott and Ola), all anchored to earthbase by a tight rhythm section. Most of the seven songs are long, spiraling excursions into the void, with a plethora of synth effects and gliding lead guitar, though the opening track, "Faked It All the Way" is pure electronic bliss, not unlike some of Eat Static's early work. "Consumed by the Goblin" slowly envelops the listener in an aural sheen of zooming, twisting synthesizers before tracking off into the Oort Cloud in a blaze of glory. "Falling Stardrops" is another interstellar voyage through cascading synthscapes of solar wind, virtual bubbles and ethereal pads. Both of these tracks are delicious headphone deep listening, each grooving and gyrating with the vibrant energy of some of the Ozric's best latter day work, Waterfall Cities, for example. The defiantly psychedelic guitar explorations recall Ed Wynne at his acidhead best. "Grab a Cab" flows on a foaming tide of synth effects and retro Hammond organ punctuated with jangling guitars. It's a piece of cosmic reggae rock that picks up momentum as it soars beyond the edge of the galaxy. The disc's finale "Sundown" is another solar epic that utilizes the Berlin School synthology ethic of Agitation Free and Tangerine Dream to good effect. Like many of the other pieces, "Sundown" displays a buoyancy and vibrancy that is both intoxicating and energetic simultaneously. Surprisingly, though completely improvised, the songs are all coherent, cohesive and well-structured, giving the effect of an ensemble that sounds as if it has played together for quite some time and whose players respond to one another with an almost intuitive telepathy. The recording itself is exceptional: sparkling, clear and full of presence, with a kind of urgency that comes only from a live performance. In sum, Øresund Space Collective is an engrossing disc for the sonically adventurous.


Aural Innovations (AI): Judging by the volume of Scott's live show reviews there is an impressive (and enviable) amount of concert activity going on your region in the space/psych/stoner realm. Was it through this network of performances that OSC got started? How did the original members come together as an all improv band?

Magnus: We had played concerts together and knew each other from those shows or other concerts. The first session was Scott and me who went over to Malmö to jam with Bland Bladen.

Scott: Well, this certainly has had a big influence. In 1998, soon after moving to Denmark, I saw an advert for a band called Narnia and it was described as Space Rock. I go see any band that is described as space rock. Anyway, this is how I met Magnus, guitarist in Mantric Muse (formely Narnia) and the OSC. He is also one of my best friends now. This lead to me start to play space sounds for about a year with Mantric Muse (we never did play any gigs) before I joined Gas Giant. Anyway, I first heard Bland Bladen on the Aural Innovations radio and then made contact with the band and set up a concert with Bland Blanden and Mantric Muse at the Dragens Hule and we have all been good friends since then. After Gas Giant decided they no longer needed the space aspect in their music, I decided to put together some jam sessions with the guys from Mantric Muse, Bland Bladen and myself. This is how the OSC developed. It was never planned to be a new band. It just sort of happened.

AI: Having members that live in both Denmark and Sweden, are logistics an issue, or are you all pretty much in close proximity to one another?

Magnus: It is an issue financially. Most of us live in the Øresund region but Sebastian lives 6-7 hours drive away in the forest.

Scott: It is not really a huge problem as the Øresund Bridge connects Malmö, Sweden with Copenhagen, Denmark. It costs about $80 to drive across the bridge round trip but when we have 4 in the car it is not too bad. One small problem now is that Sebastian has moved from Malmö to a small village about 500 km north of Malmö, so our jam sessions and concerts have to be more strickly arranged so that he can make it down.

AI: OSC has been together for nearly 2 years now. Are the members from Mantric Muse, Gas Giant and Bland Bladen and Scott Heller still the core that are present at all your jam sessions, or is it pretty much a fluid lineup? That is, do you find it evolving into a more stable band, or is the ethic one of bringing in different or less than regular musicians?

Scott: We have developed into a more stable line up in the last year with myself, Magnus, Michael, Søren, Mogens, Ola and Sebastian all being at 90% of the jam sessions. This is who the core of the OSC is. We still have old and new guests joining up from Kaabel, Drahk von Trip, and the Carpet Knights quite often though.

Magnus: Yes, it's definitely a bit easier with a stable core.

AI: I believe you've only played a few live performances so far? Having formed as an all improv band, is it safe to assume that you do the same in front of live audiences?

Scott: Yes… we agreed from the beginning to make this project 100% improvised. I think you will find we will perhaps recycle a bass line or riff from time to time but we make everything up from the get go. I think in the future we may try to jam on some classic riffs like Master of the Universe or Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. You never know.

Magnus: It's all improv! We usually find a key and go from there. Sometimes we settle for a tempo, which helps in terms of synchronizing the machines.

AI: Are you pleased with the way the live shows have been? I'm guessing live performance come natural to you, given that it's what you do so well, only with people out there listening.

Magnus: We are quite satisfied. It's definitely different than the rehearsal room sessions. It's a big challenge and really special when you have to come up with improvised music in front of a live audience.

Scott: Well, we have only played three shows so far and they have each been better than the previous one. So if we can keep that up we will be pretty satisfied. It is fun to have the people there and see them dancing or freaking out and just enjoying it.

AI: You have made MANY hours of music available for free download. How does the Transubstans label CD fit into all this? Do you consider it to be a best of, or something separate from the jams on the web site? Has it helped you reach a wider audience?

Scott: Transubstans fits into the picture by supporting us and releasing our studio material. There seems to be some confusion about the CD and our jam sessions. The CD was recorded at the Black Tornado studios on one day in July 2005. We had the same approach as we always do. Just set up and jam. But the advantage here is that we can record everything on multiple tracks and get a much better sound and mix. Our monthly jam sessions are recorded directly to minidisk and recorded with my Core Sound Cardioid microphones and we enhance the sound on the computer to get the best sound possible. The free downloads have absolutely helped us reach a wider audience. We have over 1500 unique hits on our web site every month and between 15 and 18 GB (gigabytes!) of MP3 downloads. So people are listening to our music!

AI: Your web site (charity page) indicates your main focus is to continue down a path of making your music available for free download. Do you still foresee future CD releases through labels like Transubstans?

Scott: My philosophy is that once we have played the music it belongs to the fans. Therefore, I would like to continue to provide all our jam sessions as MP3 for free. Again, I am grateful for labels like Transubstans that take a risk and release our studio recordings. I hope that we can continue this support through Transubstans and other labels. Our goal is to record enough material to release at least two studio CDs every year.

AI: You've said that you plan to release limited edition CD's similar to Quarkspace's Spacefolds series. Would these be periodic "best of" burn-to-order or some such releases?

Magnus: We would like to present our favourite jams with enhanced sound.

Scott: Yes. These are called Picks from Space and we have 7 volumes compiled so far. At the moment these are burn to order but they do come with complete artwork and detailed information about the jams. Some of these are edits only appearing on this series of CDs and these we have spent some extra time making them sound as good as possible so the sound is superior to the MP3 files for sure. I hope that we can eventually raise the money to have these pressed as real CDs. We will see. More volumes will be compiled but I have not had any time to work on this.

AI: Of all the reviews I read on your web site I felt Andy G and Daniel Lars were most tuned into what OSC is doing. Total Space Rock, but a chill-out kind of vibe. Like some of the Krautrock bands of yester-year, but similar to contemporary bands like Quarkspace, Architectural Metaphor and some of the Ozric Tentacles more laid back music.

Scott: I agree 100%. We did not intend on making such a laid back space rock CD but the combination of nerves, not being used to wearing headphones and some really good grass, made people a little more reserved and laid back and we did not perform the way we had expected. But we still captured enough magic to make one cool CD out of the 2½ hrs we recorded.

AI: I recently discovered Kaabel, who are similar in style and MP3 download ethic to OSC. And some of their members have played with OSC. AND I see an OSC meets Kaabel download on the OSC site.

Scott: The link between us and Kaabel is that Jonas (Inzect) is an old friend of some of the members of OSC (Bland Bladen) and he designed our logo and web site. He is a talented artist and a good friend of the band. We recently had a jam with him and recorded this on his multitrack recording set up like the one we hope to have in the future.

AI: Any news or comments you'd care to share?

Scott: I can just tell you that we had an amazing second studio recording session on March 10th and 11th and recorded over 6 hours of jams (24 jams ranging from 7 to 26 minutes long). This is by far the best material we have ever made and the sound and vibe and energy we captured was incredible. The fans of our first CD will love this one. A lot of the jams are much more rocking and not as laid back. We hope to release a double CD from this session later this year.

Magnus: We are all one big family!

For more information you can visit the Øresund Space Collective web site at: http://www.oresundspacecollective.com.
NOTE that they have MANY hours of mp3 you can download!!!
Visit the Transubstans web site at: http://www.recordheaven.net.

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