CHURCH OF HED: Church of Hed (CD on Eternity's Jest Records)
This release from the end of 2002 features 56 minutes of dazzling space rock.
Church of Hed is a side project by Paul Williams (the drummer from Quarkspace). While most of the music is performed by Williams (aka the Nefarious HED) on synthesizers, drumming, loops, and voice, there are solid contributions by: the Archbishop of Budweiser (aka Stan Lyon) on bass and spacecow, Sister Mary Haruspex (aka Lynnette Shelley from the Red Masque) on backing vocals, Monsignor Nomuzik (aka Carl Howard from Nomuzic) on analog box, Teop Dlrow Eht Moht (aka Thom the World Poet) on spoken words, Father Viv Bleating (aka Jay Swanson from Quarkspace) on freaky synth, and Cardinal Weimerheiner (aka Chet Santia from Quarkspace) on backing vocals.
Frenzied rhythms are a keynote here, as intricate E-perc, passionate drums, and sparkling electronics beat out relentless tempos that propel the tuneage into astral territory. Synthesizers abound, generating a pulsating interplay of slippery sequences and cloudbank textures. Nimble-fingered keyboards belt out tasty riffs and mesmerizing cycles with alarming velocity. The electronics are quite dazzling in their versatile substance. Devious basslines burrow through this myriad of unworldly noise, providing a rumbling earthiness.
A few tracks feature vocals that wax lyrical about the future and space-age concerns. Blurring vortices of shimmering electronics ooze around these crooning voices, screeching like a swarm of angry insects.
Catchy melodies are another keynote with this music. The fiery riffs conspire superbly with the driving rhythms, producing intriguing harmonics and ultimately appealing tuneage. Intensity goes hand-in-tentacle with cosmic disposition. Trance collides with spacerock, spiced with a little bit of prog.
Some songs abstain from frenzy, devoting their sonic expression to electronic laments. The awe factor still runs high among these more pensive passages.
Fans of Quarkspace will not be disappointed.
HAWKWIND: Live at Nottingham 1990 (double CD on Hawk Records)
This double CD from 2002 offers 142 minutes of live spacerock from Hawkwind's 1990 concert in Nottingham. (Technically, portions of this release were sourced from a gig done by the band for a British television show called "Bedrock"...but the liner notes are obstinately unhelpful in determining what songs come from where.)
Hawkwind's line-up (circa 1990) were: Dave Brock on guitar, voice, and synths; Harvey Bainbridge on synths and voice; Alan Davey on bass, synths, and voice; Simon House on violin; Richard Chadwick on drums and percussion; and Bridgett Wishart on vocals.
You get a wide range of songs, including classic tuneage like: "Angels of Death", "Ejection", "Night of the Hawks", "Assassins of Allah", "Utopia", "Damnation Alley"; and new-at-the-time songs like: "Wings", "Out of the Shadows", "Snake Dance", "TV Suicide", and "Back in the Box". Also featured are non-LP tracks like "The 7th Star" and "Your Secret's Safe with Me". (Several of these songs appear twice on the CD, indicating the duality of concerts represented here. Where one gig ends and the other begins though, is a mystery to even the most discerning listener.)
As expected, the performance is crisp and professional, yet raw with unbridled cosmic force. The plethora of synthesizers provides an eternal spaciness for the agile guitar and slippery keyboards and sultry bass and driving percussion. House's violin adds an ethereal wail that elevates the songs beyond mortal ken, revealing mysteries of the void amid the savage passion.
Bridgett Wishart has the distinction of being the first female vocalist to work with Hawkwind (the only one, too, if you overlook Samantha Fox's brief collaboration with the band in 1993 recording Hawkwind's contribution to the "Gimme Shelter" benefit CD EP). Wishart's rich voice lends a startling humanity to the tracks here, a benevolent counterpoint to the commanding masculine vocals that normally grace the band's intense excursions into speculative music. The concerts featured on this live double CD offer revealing glimpses into Wishart's earliest days with the band.
Hawkwind concerts are generally dazzling experiences, exhausting for the band and the audience. This release excellently demonstrates that sheer power.
SCATTERED PLANETS: Drinking with Aliens (CDR on Scattered Planets Design)
This release from 2001 offers 36 minutes of indie space rock.
Scattered Planets is of Doug McMahan.
This space rock is fairly drenched with synth pop overtones. Much of the music's substance is derived from synthesizers and electronic percussion. There are some vocals, harshly articulated and calling from a distance, but most of the tracks are instrumental with sampled movie dialog lending verbal credence to the astral melodies.
After a simplistic first track, things pick up with more body as the music celebrates its cosmic expressions with denser electronics and catchier rhythms.
Although the songs are pretty short, they exhibit enthralling demeanor with their synthesized exuberance. The electronics spiral through murky clouds to convey interstellar subjects, while keyboards herd those bloops and wheeps into a harmonic semblence, producing capable pop tunes. The E-perc grows more involved, propelling everything with a mechanized enthusiasm.
If you're ever going to share cups with an extraterrestrial, this is the perfect sonic accompaniment...as long as the alien has legs, for it is unwise to taunt a legless creature with infectuous dance music.
SCATTERED PLANETS: Andromeda Keg Party (CDR EP on Scattered Planets Design)
This 2002 release offers 27 more minutes of indie space rock.
This time, Scattered Planets is Doug McMahan and Bob Lennon.
Here, the synthesizers and E-perc are joined by guitar and extremely mistreated vocals. The electronics flitter like snowflakes falling from an airless sky. Keyboards play less of a role, allowing the electronics to flourish unconfined by chord progressions. Frequently, it seems as if the electronics have broken free and escaped control, sending the musicians scampering through the studio in an attempt to corral these elusive noises.
The guitar growls with astral sustain, echoing its outcry with grinding emotion as the riffs spiral out of murky nebulas to buzz around the listener's head. The E-perc is still mostly preprogrammed, but the steady rhythms function better with the lusher, darker backdrop provided by the other instruments.
The vocals retain their remote quality, with additional reverb garbling ennunciation as if desperate to convert English into an intergalactic language. Comprehending the lyrics becomes secondary, for the words are more appealing in their reconstructive stage.
This time, you've left the Earth and travelled to another galaxy to get soused with aliens...so beware that you have a designated driver to pilot your spacecraft safely back home.
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