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12 Jul 2017

The Space Spectrum "Drone Jams Vol. II" 2017 Germany Psych Space Rock

The Space Spectrum  "Drone Jams Vol. II" 2017 Germany Psych Space Rock



Limited to 150 copies on RED VINYL. A very welcome return in 2017 from German kraut psychonauts The Space Spectrum. 'Drone Jams Vol. II', as the title clearly suggests, is the excellent follow-up to 'Drone Jams Vol I'. Though the four tracks on the album were recorded in January 2015, they have a timeless quality, sounding just as fresh and original now as they did back then..~

The Space Spectrum are a Kraut/Psych/Drone/Spacerock-Collective from Rendsburg, Germany. They started off as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Nico Seel back in 2011 but, after a few Bandcamp releases, he decided to get more people on board to add more atmospheric sounds and to form a full band. After several line-up changes The Space Spectrum were approached by the well regarded Greek label, Cosmic Eye Records, to record their debut vinyl release, “The Red Eyed Queen”.~

It seems so long ago since I heard Drone Jams Vol. 1. It was the second release on Drone Rock Records, and I remember being tantalised by the strung-out jams that The Space Spectrum, a band new to me at the time, put out. That this was, in fact, only a couple of years ago is testament to the amount of really fantastic music has flown into my ears since then; to the extent that I have had to revisit that first album to remind me of the band’s sound. I felt annoyed with myself that I had not played it for ages, and will not be making that mistake again in a hurry.
That’s a pretty accurate description of what this four piece (Florian Bödeker – Synthesizer, Nico Seel – Guitar, Nils Seel – Bass, Kevin Klein – Drums) are about. What I can say is that, if anything, I think that this second Volume of Drone Jams even outstrips the first in its variety and quality. To my ears there seems to be a greater clarity to this outing, whether that’s down to the mixing or pressing I’m not sure; but be sure that if you liked Vol. 1 you’re going to love this one. Moreover if you missed out on Vol. 1, Drone Rock Records are re-pressing it and selling both as a package (see below)!

Vol. II opens with ‘Cosmic Highway’, this is really wonderful track to listen to in the evening sun (as I am doing at the moment). There’s a bright lilt to the whole thing, a melodious number with a jazz improv feel to the spaced out vibe. Here you really get the atmospheric sounds mentioned in the band’s biog. I really like how the band almost imperceptibly move up though the gears of this fifteen minute track that, frankly, could be twice as long and I wouldn’t complain.
After that ‘Godshaker’ is altogether shorter and heavier featuring a great interplay between the organ/ synth and bass, with some super guitar fills and pounding drums holding the whole thing together. ‘Dance Tambourines’ continues in a similar vein with the addition of a fab riff which drives the track forwards and gives it a great deal of shape throughout. Both of these tracks are the sort of heavy jams that have a deftness to them. Heavy but in no way dark.

The set is finished of with ‘The Head Nodding King’, but in reality you’re going to be wanting to do more than just nod your head to this monster. Centred around a heavy guitar riff, replicated by the bass this one really rocks out in a way that takes the album far away from the bucolic beginnings of ‘Cosmic Highway’. This is not just an album, its a improv trip into the higher reaches of, as the band put it ‘Kraut/Psych/Drone/Spacerock’… they’re all that and Simon.~

This year is going to be notable for many things: possibly the most shambolic general election ever, the total collapse of the Tory Party (well, not yet but fingers crossed), the increasing rise of religious intolerance etc etc. On a more optimistic note, from a music perspective, it will also go down as the year that Brighton's Drone Rock Records REALLY came into its own - what with releases from the mighty Earthling Society, a cracker from Zofff and the stupendous Stupid Cosmonaut album and a glance at the label's webstore and the 'Sold Out' signs hanging from these releases.....'nuff said! Their next release revisits their sophomore offering from The Space Spectrum...'Drone Jams Vol II' unsurprisingly following on from 'Vol I'....and if you liked the first one then you will love this one!

'Cosmic Highway' sets us on the road to psych jam nirvana right from the get-go, weaving a vibrant tapestry of psychedelia with flecks of krautrock running throughout. You can hear traces of the extended jams Amon Duul II and, more contemporary, Sylvester Anfang but the band bring their own character to the music as if to say 'this music is ours'!. It is a masterful display of jamming and frankly were the album just made up of this track I would still be happy! 'Godshaker' is a much shorter track and, as befits its title, a tad 'harder'. It is more obviously krautrock, thanks in no small part to the organ-like keyboard refrains that run through it like a seam of precious metal. The drums are pummeled like there's no tomorrow and the bass throbs providing an almost organic framework for the heavy duty fuzz of the guitar (and some ace wah-wah to boot!) 'Dance Tambourines' sees things move into different territory; the bass is almost dub and the guitar takes on an almost neo-psych aspect. The whole tone is more relaxed but no less intoxicating..there is a motorik rhythm under the ringing guitar that is positively mesmeric. 'The Head Nodding King' (great title!) is another awesome slice of psych/kraut jamming of Brobdingnagian proportions. There is a layer of heavy fuzz that envelops the track like a cocoon and the motorik rhythm is once again hypnotic. The power of the track is get dragged into it's hypnagogic clutches but only when you listen does the power shine through...the guitars are heavy with a whiff of unbridled electricity about them and the whole thing is like being punched in throat by a cottonwool covered boxing glove...majestic stuff...and it's even got one of those false finishes where you draw breath only to be bombarded by a denouement of mythical size.

I really dug 'Drone Jams Vol I' with it's focused rawness but 'Vol II' is a beast of a different colour. The rawness has been replaced by a tightness that pays testament to the guys' art but the restraint is still there...where other bands may be tempted to freak out these guys keep it focused and controlled. This seems to enhance the jams if anything...relying on measured doses of power and heaviness rather than throwing the kitchen sink at it. Simply put it is a brilliant album full of delicious psych/kraut jams. Here's hoping there's a 'Vol III' down the line. Once more, kudos to Drone Rock.~

A1 Cosmic Highway 15:06
A2 Godshaker 5:40
B1 Dance Tambourines 9:58
B2 The Head Nodding King 9:00 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck