Christus & the Cosmonaughts - "From Atop This Hill"
(Beta-lactam Ring Records 2007, mt078, CD/LP)
From Aural Innovations #37 (September 2007)
Christus & the Cosmonaughts are fronted by Scot Solida, with help from numerous guests, primarily a guitarist/bassist/Stick player that goes by Har. The album opens with the 12 minute "Beyond Belief", a space-prog track that sounds like a cross between Eloy, Hawkwind and The Legendary Pink Dots. The first half rolls along steadily but the pace picks up at the halfway mark, being a deep space marching groove that could be the soundtrack for thousands of alien troops stomping into battle. "Nothing to Say" sounds like it would be right at home on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, though the Cosmonaughts get much freakier with the background electronics. "From Atop This Hill" is propelled by a sequenced pattern that creates a factory setting, surrounded by various noises, electronics, brief ripping guitar licks and efx'd voices. "Surviving the Fanatics" is a quirky song with a catchy melody, robotic rhythmic pulse and whining space guitar lines in the background. The promo sheet says that Gary Numan was one of Solida's early influences and that certainly comes across on this song.
"Nod If You Were The Last Man Alive" is the other lengthy track of the set and my favorite track on the album. There's a core song that again reminds me of something along the Floyd-Pink Dots axis. But the Cosmonaughts quickly stray from the song theme to traverse through spaced out sound experimentations that are like an interlude before the next song segment. I love this next part, which really gives the track a powerful space-prog epic quality. And back and forth we go between space journey and song. All very brain massaging and image inducing, and there are some intense moments to shake things up a bit. There's so much happening here it's impossible to adequately describe, but it's all stitched together in a way that flows very smoothly. "Modulating Between Faith and Knowledge" is an intense space industrial glom of noise and electronics. And finally, "No Change to Dream" starts off as a song but quickly launches into a space groove that's similar to the second half of "Beyond Belief" but rocks a bit harder.
Overall the album features an excellent mixture of space atmospherics, sound constructions and song, drawing on a variety of space rock and progressive influences. It looks like there are at least two previous albums which I'll have to get my hands on. And check out the gorgeous cover art by Scot Solida, who is clearly a multi-faceted artist.
For more information you can visit the Christus & the Cosmonaughts Myspace site at: http://www.myspace.com/christusthecosmonaughts.
Lots of band info and mp3's can be found at: http://www.olscratchrecordings.com/menu3.htm.
Visit the Beta-lactam Ring Records web site at: http://www.blrrecords.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz