Psi Corps - "All Roads Lead to Amber: Parts I & II"
(R.A.I.G. 2010, R056)
From Aural Innovations #41 (October 2010)
Psi Corps is a side project of Alisa Coral (Space Mirrors), which she started as a vehicle to create book soundtracks. The first Psi Corps album, Tekeli-li, was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gorden Pym of Nantucket, which she recorded with Space Mirrors co-founder Michael Blackman. All Roads Lead to Amber is inspired by Roger Zelazny's first two books from The Amber Chronicles and features Alisa, along with Charles Van de Kree (Jet Jaguar) and Arkady Fedotov (Vespero), with artwork by Kevin Sommers.
All Roads Lead to Amber consists of two parts and Alisa recommends listening to the album with this in mind. The first four tracks make up Part I - The Siege of Amber, and the next five tracks comprise Part II - Along the Black Road. For me this all instrumental album flows such that it's like listening to an entire story from beginning to end. If Alisa's goal is to create a soundtrack then Psi Corps have done a tremendous job. It's difficult to describe the album in terms of individual tracks and I won't even try. All Roads Lead to Amber is a tour de force of spaced out psychedelic progressive rock. The music is busy and demands full attention to really absorb and appreciate all that is going on. There are multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, synths, and percussion, often going in various directions but coming together into a cohesive whole. Searing, screaming guitars combine with grinding acidic guitars, rocking hard to driving percussion. There's lots of electronics to give the music an alien vibe. And the keyboards can be symphonic at times, adding the more prog rock oriented elements to the music. One aspect of the album that will jump out at those familiar with Alisa's work is the guitar. Charles van de Kree is the honcho behind the American space-rock/space-core/space-punk band Jet Jaguar, and Charles' style brings an edge to the music that Jet Jaguar fans will recognize.
I've not read Zelazny's books but I felt sufficiently inspired by the music and Alisa's enthusism to seek out the Amber novels, and when I got to my local bookstore they had a reasonably priced collection of all ten books in the series (I'm two books into it and this is fun reading indeed). There's a multitude of thematic shifts, twists and turns to the album that are clearly taking the listener through chapters of a story, which the track titles provide some insight into. Ah, what the heck, here they are:
Part I - The Siege of Amber:
1. Walking the Pattern (Alisa Coral)
2. Battle of Kolvir (part I) (Alisa Coral)
3. Battle of Kolvir (part II) (Alisa Coral/C. Van de Kree)
4. In the Dark/Cabra (Alisa Coral)
Part II - Along the Black Road:
5. How Many Miles to Avalon? (Alisa Coral)
6. Dark Rituals of Lorraine (Alisa Coral/C. Van de Kree)
7. Across the Black Road (Alisa Coral)
8. Valley of Garnath - The Battle (Alisa Coral/C. Van de Kree)
9. Dara (Walking the Pattern) (Alisa Coral)
Alisa Coral continues to demonstrate that she is one of the more imaginative and creative forces on the contemporary space rock scene. And, largely due to her collaborations with some of the other musicians that are keeping the music fresh and exciting, she has produced yet another outstanding album that I recommend everyone seek out. I also have to give big kudos to Kevin Sommers for the outstanding artwork. This would make for a beautiful vinyl gatefold package.
For more information you can visit the Space Mirrors web site which also cover Psi Corps at http://www.spacemirrors.com
Visit the Psi Corps Myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/psicorpstekelili
Visit the R.A.I.G. web site at: http://www.raig.ru
Also checkout Shadow Creatures, a FREE DOWNLOAD Psi Corps EP, available from http://psicorps.bandcamp.com/album/shadow-creatures-ep or http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Psi_Corps/Shadow_Creatures
Reviewed by Spaceman33