Various Artists - "Psytrax Issue II - Space/Psych/Stoner Rock"
(Dead Earnest 2006)
From Aural Innovations #33 (March 2006)
Psytrax is Andy G's compilation series promoting some of the best of the contemporary Space Rock, Psychedelic and Stoner Rock bands from around the world. Throughout the CD Andy announces and discusses the bands, making this very much the audio magazine it's intended to be. Here's what's in this issue…..
Nifty Eagu & the Glo-Pilots' "Walking Android" is a very cool cosmic hard rocking track with dual guitars and a solid grooving rhythm section. I've heard quite a bit from this band and this is definitely one of their hotter songs, with this being a remix done for this Psytrax release.
World Below is a Stoner rock band I'd not heard of before. And as of the time of writing Andy hadn't yet updated his web site so I couldn't get any info on them. In any event, this is more of a Metal than a Stoner Rock band, though the one guitarist does have a Stoner sound at times. But no matter… it's a hot tune. Great song, VERY tight band and solid playing from all. I'll be checking out more from these guys.
Spirits Burning is Don Falcone's "gathering in space" series of releases that brings together luminaries from various Space Rock bands. This track is from the upcoming Spirits Burning album to be released on Mellow Records. Unfortunately I can't tell yet who's on this track, knowledge that's a big part of the Spirits Burning albums. But it's a really good instrumental with heavy driving tribal percussion, freaked out wailing guitar solos and space electronics.
Krel's contribution is from their Out of Space album on Andy G's Dead Earnest label. Lovers of Hawkwind inspired Space Rock that don't know Krel are in for a pleasant surprise.
The new issue of Psytrax arrives at the same time as the new Space Mirrors album has been released by Sleaszy Rider Records. But note that the Space Mirrors track on this compilation is EXCLUSIVE to Psytrax. The song is called "Shadow Over Innsmouth" and this alone should make you want this comp. I don't think anybody does Space-Metal like Space Mirrors does. HOT stuff!
Rotor is a Stoner-Hard Rock band from Germany and "Super Nova" is a rocking instrumental from their album on the excellent Elektrohasch label. I haven't heard the CD in a while and didn't have time to revisit it while writing this review, but this track has Progressive Rock influences that I don't recall being part of the overall Rotor sound. Cool track.
Church of Hed is the band that Quarkspace has "sort of" morphed into, being headed up by Quarkspace member Paul Williams with help from some Quarkspace band-mates and others from the American Space Rock scene. The music is in the Quarkspace spirit but with a lot of the electronics that Paul has been experimenting with for some years now.
First Band From Outer Space are from Sweden and are another serious standout in the Space-Stoner-Metal realm. Heavy rocking and totally in space, their debut CD released in 2005 on the Transubstans label is, in my opinion, essential. Their contribution to Psytrax is a 6 minute excerpt from their We're Only In It For The Space Rock album.
Secret Saucer is an American band made up members from various American Space Rock bands, including Architectural Metaphor, Quarkspace, Star Nation, Nick Riff, Sun Machine and others. Their Element 115 CD is the latest on Andy G's Dead Earnest label and consists of all instrumental Space Rock, with Krautrock and Progressive influences as well. Another hot one.
Penance is another Stoner band I've never heard of. This is total, unfiltered STONER Rock in the Psychedelic Black Sabbath tradition. Doooooooom!
Starfield are another Hawkwind inspired Space Rock band and their "Strange Light" track is another EXCLUSIVE to Psytrax, having originally been scheduled to be on their never released second album. Which is a shame because this is outstanding Space Rock, with lots of heavy spaced out keyboards and synths, heavy guitars and vocals. Wow, what a shame that second album was never released. This is great.
Another EXCLUSIVE to Psytrax is a live Spacehead song called "Axis". It's classic Spacehead… heavy, metallic, and totally cosmic. Love it.
Saz is a band that is local to Andy G in Dundee, Scotland, and their "Gotta Get A Grip" contribution is from a demo disc they released. It's not really Space/Psych/Stoner but it's a very good high energy 70's/80's influenced rocker. Catchy song too.
Finally, we've got a track from Dark Sun's forthcoming album, the long awaited follow up to 1998's Feed Your Mind. Dark Sun never really went away, they've just not been consistently active enough to get a new album together. This is quite different from the songs on Feed Your Mind and if this is what the new album as a whole has in store then I'm fired up to hear it. All instrumental psyched out and rocking space exploration. Very cool.
Psytrax is produced with simple packaging to keep costs down so that it can be sold cheap cheap cheap! Andy wants you to hear these bands. If ever there was a comp you were guaranteed to win with it's this one.
For more information you can visit the Psytrax web site at: http://www.deadearnest.btinternet.co.uk/Inkeys.htm.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz