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Spacerock: Quarkspace and Church of Hed

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QUARKSPACE: Spacefolds 10 (DDL on Eternity's Jest Records)

This release from 2010 offers 64 minutes of attractive progrock.

Quarkspace is: Darren Gough (on guitar), Chet Santia (on bass, guitar, and loops), Jay Swanson (on keyboards, synth, and loops), and Paul Williams (on drumming, synth, keyboards, and loops).

The band has a flair for mixing musical genres to produce progrock that often defies classification. Whatever the description, though, the tuneage exhibits a very appealing character.

Pensive piano blends with electronic keyboards to generate a sonic pastiche that transcends generations with aristocratic melodies seasoned by modern undercurrents and inventive embellishments.

The guitar presents a dual presence, with delicate strumming serving as auxiliary layers, and other times squealing with frontsman fervor as it delivers searing lead riffs that meander into delightful variations.

The bass contributes a somber rumble that serves as a grounding element among the other soaring instrumentation.

Not unlike the guitar, the percussion offers versatility in its presence. At times the drums pitter away as a background aspect, lending subtle enhancement to the ongoing melodies. On other occasions, the rhythms erupt into a more prominent role, providing dynamic propulsion to already surging tunes.

While this music is mostly improvised, the resulting compositions display sturdy puissance that glistens with attractive charisma. The instruments blend together to form a cohesive presentation, enticing the listener into a realm where the whole encapsulates as it captivates, infusing the air with a shimmering power of satisfying definition.

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CHURCH OF HED: Rivers of Asphalt (CD on Eternity's Jest Records)

This release from 2010 offers 66 minutes of electronic driving music.

Church of Hed is Paul Williams (from Quarkspace) on keyboards, synths, drumming, and loops. He is joined by: Greg Kozlowski (on guitar and synth), Steve Hayes (on synth), Jay Swanson (on synth), and Darren Gough (on guitar). The last two are also from Quarkspace.

The liner notes say: "a musical travelogue down today's Route 66 told through a heady mix of prog, electronica and space," and that's what it is--tuneage for the road.

The profusion of synthesizers affords this music a plethora of different sounds and styles, from twinkling keys to ponderous tones to sprightly passages of spacey airs. The electronics tend to be mostly keyboard oriented with progressive organ characteristics, relying on sparse use of textural backdrops and delivering melodies with nimble-fingered dexterity, often tinged with auxiliary riffs of haunting evocation.

The guitars often manifest in dreamy strumming passages reminiscent of spacey blues. At other times, they adopt sustained chords akin to glistening chrome.

Very little percussion can be found here. Necessary rhythms are achieved through the cyclic application of electronic pulsations. When actual drums do appear, the beats are relegated to the remote distance.

A versatile variety of compositions marks this release, offering apt interpretations of all sorts of roadways, from a languid tune of seemingly never-ending expansion ("Open Road Illinois") to the churning nature of steadfast velocity ("Arroyo Seco") to celestial ambience of a fluid quality ("Blue Whales over Oklahoma"). Many of the tracks are short, quickly capturing the mood of those motorways. And the majority of pieces are devoutly prog in their soothing definition. Auxiliary astral vapors emphasize the overall balmy moods achieved by this tuneage.

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