DarXtar "Aged To Perfection" 2012 Sweden Prog Psych Space Rock
"The band have steadily matured with each new release these past 20+ years. They have a real flair for song structure and melody, and at the core this is a very accessible album. But the old Darxtar Space Rock explorers have never gone away. Ambience and atmosphere are key elements throughout, and I love the way guitar, violin and synths all take cooperative lead roles on nearly every track." (Aural Innovations)
"The album is crossing over the experimental, folk and avant-garde ... Sometimes it feels like Aged of Perfection is a try of uniting the heavy rock and laidback styled psychedelia, but however you turn, whatever this album is trying to do, it’s doing really good. What Mars Red Sky’s self-titled album from 2011 is for stoner rock, darXtar’s Aged to Perfection is for space rock. Highly recommendable!" (ProgSphere)
"K. Soren Bengtsson is a DJ but his unique mixture of beautiful tones and house elements were actually were able to surprise me. Even though he uses a lot of space effects (Which might sounds weird or nerdy to most of you), I must say that it makes the album even more special and great! ... "Aged To Perfection" is a work of art." (Metal Temple).....~
Aged To Perfection ... wow, this sounds like an ambitious appeal. DARXTAR are underway for more than 20 years now and this one is their seventh effort in the meanwhile, the first though to be released on the famous nordic Transubstans/Record Heaven record label. I would say they've never been present on a very experimental path and always give a secure clue where the main influences are coming from. However, as for the compositional attempt they are on the peak here - this surely sounds matured compared to 'Sju' for example ... and - since dealing with the future of mankind - more serious overall.
Again a bunch of twittering as well as soaring synths are proper compagnions when exploring the whole album. They are implying some southern rock feel first, but then Mörkret 2 immediately afterwards reflects their experimental approach, it's a contrary spooky/spacey piece which leads into some Hawkwind adapted soul called Tired Nature - a centerpiece by all means, there's some exciting jamming appeal implemented. In A Time comes Pink Floyd reminiscent, the violin though serves a different flavour. Finally Fiska På Gräsmattan marks the album's highlight, a flamboyant epic, especially manifested during the second half while showcasing a floating jam including wonderful rhodes piano.
Artistic freedom - the DARXTAR crew have written, recorded, mixed and produced all by themselves. Well, that means, there's been no pressure, they took seven years to come with a new one. Thus you can hear ripe beauty, especially on the aforementioned two extended tracks. Besides some proper straigthforward rocking moments nice relaxed and melancholic parts are dominating. So please direct your attention on those subtle violin and saxophone contributions for example - excellent! An enjoyable album, easily reaching for the Hawkwind and Omnia Opera level - I strongly recommend to use headphones in order to pick up this ambience in full........by Rivertree ....~
Swedish band DARXTAR has a history going back to the start of the 1990's and was initially a band that sought to revive space rock as it was made in the 1970's, with Hawkwind as a distinct and stated influence. A total of seven full length studio productions have seen the light of day since then, of which "Aged to Perfection" is the most recent. An album seven years in the making which was released by Swedish label Transubstans Records in the spring of 2012.
One aspect of this disc that is a striking feature right away is the lack of distinct references to Hawkwind's brand of space rock, and in particular the 70's sound that was so inspirational in the early stages of Darxtar's history as a recording artist. The harder edged riffs, pumping bass and spaced out, energetic or intense atmospheres of early Hawkwind are just about non-existent. As far as resemblances go in that direction, they are closer to what Brock and his crew explored on "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music", although without any direct references as such. Just about the only instance where we're treated to a sound and atmosphere comparable with the early ideals of Darxtar is on Tired Nature, and even there the classic space rock style is explored in more of a careful and subdued manner.
Title track Aged to Perfection crystallize the extreme of what this album is all about I guess. A composition based on a basic acoustic guitar and vocals arrangement, careful and dampened in expression, surrounded by a careful arrangement consisting of rhythms, futuristic sounds and fleeting violin textures. And while the core foundation of the following compositions all deviate from this one, the surrounding arrangements are of a fairly identical nature throughout, in construction as well as intensity.
As this disc unfolds, associations to Pink Floyd starts appearing pretty soon. The subdued, careful nature of the themes and arrangements and the effective use of darker textures increasingly points in that direction, with In Time as the most distinct example. But a take on their sound generally void of any major dramatic excursions, stark contrasts and majestic soundscapes. Think mellow late 70's Pink Floyd, flavoured with gentle ethereal violin textures and just as gentle futuristic synths and sound effects. And with a nice and efficient use of organ backing textures.
For final piece Fiska På Grasmattan Darxtar pulls out in a slightly different direction again though, ending this disc with an epic length, improvisational affair. Again a construction that merits descriptions along the lines of careful and gentle, with a steady repeating rhythms foundation and dampened more or less fragmented instrument constellations employed in a creative and less structured manner on top.
In sum this makes for a production that explore the gentler parts of the space rock subgenre. An almost lazy, slightly detached overall sound, where the edges are as soft as the contrasts and the arrangements are dominated by nuanced effects of an ethereal fragmented character rather than a majestic and dominating presence. An album that invites and inspire to careful and deliberate reflection of an introspective kind rather than whisking the listener away on adventurous journeys into inner or outer space. An album that merits a check by those who feel that mellow space rock sounds like an interesting product to investigate.....by Windhawk ....~
Since I introduced myself in all that space rock thing few years ago, I thought that this genre is stricly based on lengthy improvisational jams and is less (or not at all) song approachable. As much as this has been proven to be true, there are exceptions when space rock is exactly built up on a classic song structure, meaning that some bands are not doing it in a „one, two, three, rec!“ way, but rather lay down the tracks for every instrument in the mix.
Swedish darXtar are considered as space rock-revival pioneers in the early 90′s and the album in question is the band’s seventh opus, released on May 14th on CD, limited vinyl edition and digi download via Transubstans Records.
What has become a standard in space rock genre we know is not typical for these Swedes. Although, there might be found the improvised beats of Aged to Perfection, this album is a release in which was put a lot of thought. With space rock that is „in conflict“ with Øresund Space Collective‘s style, darXtar comes as a missing link between Pink Floyd‘s 1960′s psychedelic and 1970′s space/progressive eras. Though I couldn’t be less clicheic in this comparison, darXtar‘s Aged to Perfection is, as its title suggests, an aged album that is keeping the pace with previous works. The obvious space rock elements such spacey effects and delayed guitar tunes justify the genre label, but this record is much more than that. Aged to Perfection is employing the elements typical for other genres as well, thus being atmospherically ambient in Mörkret 2 or recalling southern rock vibes in In Great Light or hard rocking in Tired Nature are just but a few of these elements creating the darXtar’s pattern on the album. Having employed a violin and saxophone the album is crossing over the experimental, folk and avant-garde.
Sometimes it feels like Aged of Perfection is a try of uniting the heavy rock and laidback styled psychedelia, but however you turn, whatever this album is trying to do, it’s doing really good. What Mars Red Sky’s self-titled album from 2011 is for stoner rock, darXtar’s Aged to Perfection is for space rock. Highly recommendable!....By Nikola Savić .....~
* K. Soren Bengtsson – vocals, guitars
* Marcus Pehrsson – bass, vocals
* Patric Danielsson – drums, vocals
* Per Hillblom – synth, keyboards
* Fredrik Sundkvist – violin
A1 Aged To Perfection
A2 In Green Heat
A3 Mörkret 2
A4 Tired Nature
B1 Some Things
B2 In A Time
B3 Moving Along
B4 Fiska På Gräsmattan