Farflung - "Live At 013 Roadburn"
(Meteor City, 2010, MCY064CD)
From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011)
The best kept secret in spacerock, California's Farflung has a history dating back to 1994's "The Way the Sky Is" single, a monstrous slab of uncompromising spacerock rooted in the psychedelic jamming of early Hawkwind and Chrome. No surprise then to learn that founder member Tommy Greņas (voice, synth and guitars) spent part of the 1990's touring with former Hawkwind psychonaut Nik Turner, whose band also featured the liquid guitar of Chrome's Helios Creed. In between those projects, Greņas has also found time to record and tour with his alternative spacerock outfit Pressurehed, his ambient project Anubian Lights (itself featuring numerous former Hawks), plus occupying guest spots with former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki, Krautrockers Cluster and the reformed Chrome. Frustratingly, while Farflung have released at least seven studio albums to date, only the most recent offering, 2009's "A Wound In Eternity" is readily available. That stunning slice of space metal marked an explosive return for Greņas and fellow conspirators/guitarists Michael Esther and Ryan Kirk, resulting in a spot on the Netherlands Roadburn Festival line-up, from which this live album is culled.
For anyone familiar with Farflung's blend of metallic space-noise, drones and electronica, the music on "Live At 013 Roadburn" will come as no surprise; almost half of the album's tracks are lifted from their most recent studio album, while another four are from the 1997 essential (and most excellently-named) Purple Pyramid Records compilation "So Many Minds, So Little Time". There is one track apiece from "9 Pin Body" and the long-deleted and now ridiculously rare "Belief Module", but nothing from 2002's atypical and almost guitarless "When Science Fails". The live set features wall-to-wall deafening versions of such epic tracks as "Unborn Planet", "Landing On Cydonia" (clocking in at eleven minutes, and morphing from beatless noise-scapes into a cosmic and all-consuming space chant celebrating the "lost Martian civilisation" of Cydonia), "The Day Of St Anthony's Fire" (a lengthy nine minute guitar and synth jam), and "Endless Drifting Wreck" featuring huge synth washes and guitar loops between lead-heavy riffs. Things conclude with "R-Complex", which Greņas announces has not been played by the band for 15 years.
While it could be argued that the live tracks released here add little to their studio renditions, that is more a reflection of the immense power and volatility of Farflung in the studio than any shortcomings of their live sound. Meanwhile, with most of their previous catalogue either commanding high prices on E-Bay, or else completely unavailable, "Live At Roadburn" is a great point of entry into the astral plane inhabited by what must surely be the greatest spacerock band since Nik Turner left the Hawkwind mothership in 1976. Buy it now, before it, like its forebears becomes lost in the void.
Visit the Meteor City website at http://www.meteorcity.com or the band's Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/farflung
Reviewed by Pat Albertson