Lunar Dunes - "Galaxsea"
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
The album kicks off with Moonbathing - maybe the most structured/song-like piece on the album. No actual words here, just a sweet vocal harmony from Krupa Pattni (she's also credited with Kaoss Pad). This opener is such a groovy laid-back psyche tune, I'm in love. Oriental Pacific is a beautiful cut. Guitarist Adam Blake really digs the surf-reverb effect, but within the context of pure psych music. There are far-out space-rock synth sounds throughout this record. As the album progresses, the band tend to go off on more exploratory space-psych meanderings, and they turn up fantastic melodic moments like a snap. They tend not to expand on these surprise gems, though things move forward pretty quickly, and yet quite fluidly. The musicianship is tight but the mood and approach is loose... in other words, Lunar Dunes are excellent improvisors. Bassist Ian Blackaby and drummer Hami are major stars on this record. Oh You Strange Tune has an eerie loop running throughout, revealing a bit of a dark side to their mostly upbeat brand of the beautiful and mysterious. Keyboardist Larry Whelan throws some droning sax notes into the stew on Pharaoh's Dream, which works up to a killer guitar line and '70s-style synth whoops. Svalbard is the longest piece at ten minutes. I was wracking my brain for days trying to remember what this bass-line reminded me of. Finally I realized it was Alien Planetscapes' Soft Martian (Soft Machine?)... this is also the first track on the album to include the sparse but effective harp pluckings of Julia Thornton. Free To Do cruises along for 8-plus minutes and developes a moody groove and even some alien funk vocals, presumably from Krupa... the only words on the album... then the intensity cranks up again with a quickened pace. Eastern Promise is a slow beauteous groove of vocals, drums, sax, bass, harp... an absolutely stunning interplay between these magician musicians. The album concludes with Off World Beacon... dreamy out-there mood-setting stuff.
If you had to strangle a band-reference out of me (yeah, like I need to be coerced), maybe Amon Duul II minus the zaniness and clumsiness? Nah, no one sounds like AD2. Whatever... I'll just go out on a limb and say that this is some kind of psych-fusion-space-prog of the highest order.
For more information you can visit the 4 Zero Records web site at: http://www.4zerorecords.co.uk
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg