Quick plays: HANZEL UND GRETYL, SASQUATCH, HIDRIA SPACEFOLK, TOMAS BERGSTREN. JAMES McMORROW

Hidria Spacefolk - Astronautica

HIDRIA SPACEFOLK Astronautica
(Hidria Records) http://hidriaspacefolk.st/

This Finnish band formed in 1999 and their first album ‘Symbiosis’ came out in 2002.  The band seem to have evolved organically, and slowly, as band members have come and gone sometimes to have babies.

The opener ‘Ad Astra’ invites immediate comparisons with Ozric Tentacles, a whirl of urgent synth noises and rhythm.  Hypnotic and compulsive.  This vibe continues with ‘Cycloop’.

‘Badding’ is led by electric piano and even offers a tune and several time changes rather than an extended riff and descends into prime Hillage/Gong wig-out. ‘Endymion’ continues the Ozrics vibe and album closer ‘Seirenes’ is equally infectious with its funky guitar riff motif ushering in a dramatic guitar and keyboards-fused prog epic.   Glorious stuff.

Definitely one to enjoy in the darkness whilst abusing some substance, even if that is sherbet dip.  ****

Review by David Randall

JAMES VINCENT McMORROW – Post Tropical

On the back of exposure via Grey’s Anatomy and extensive touring in America, Dublin’s James Vincent McMorrow’s acclaimed debut album Early In The Morning went platinum, reached number 1 in Ireland and picked up a Choice Music Prize nomination.

While that album – recorded in an isolated house by the Irish sea – married haunting folk and mythic imagery with McMorrow’s Irish roots, West-Coast inspired sounds, his follow up Post Tropical was recorded on a pecan farm half a mile from the Mexican border and finds McMorrow painting another surreal soundscape over which his soulful Donny Hathaway influenced vocals float and shimmer.

While he will claim he wanted to give the record the feel and movement of the hip-hop records he loves, Post Tropical is World ambient soul – a fragile tapestry of sound and textures written, produced and played virtually entire by McMorrow.  The album opener and first single Cavalier – a brooding twist on the Slow-Jam – is a heavenly example  – a number, surely co-written with angels.  Esoteric magnificence.    ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

HANZEL UND GRETYL – Fur Immer Metropolis Records www.hanzelundgretyl.com

Hanzel And Gretyl have been going since 1993 and comprise of Kiazer von Loopy and Vas Kallas. This album is a series of remixes of their last studio album, 2012’s ‘Born To Be Heiled’.

It’s an interesting listen that’s for sure, ranging from the industrial and highly catchy ‘More German Than German’, to the more trippy/dance orientated beats of ‘Unterstutzang 87’.  ‘Holy Shiza’ has a decent metal beat and reminded me of Die Krupps.

Having not heard the original album I can’t comment on how different the songs sound after being remixed.  However, it’s an album for fans of industrial, crossover metal and dance and even if you’re no big fan of any of those types of music do grab a listen to ‘More German Than German’, the best song on here.  ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

SASQUATCH – IV (Small Stone Records www.smallstone.com )

Sasquatch have been around since 2004 and this is not surprisingly given the title, this is the band’s fourth album.

They have a good sound mixing the classic doom metal of Black Sabbath (check out ‘Me And You’ for some Iommi approved guitar), some stoner riffery with more modern acts Soundgarden (listen to ‘Sweet Lady’ it is Soundgarden do doom!) in the mix.

The band draws those riffs out on the seven minute doom ride that is ‘Smoke Signal’. The crashing cymbals and rumbling riffs make this song one of the album’s highlights. The other seven minute tune, ‘Drawing Flies’ features more monster riffage and Keith Gibbs shows what a string voice he has, vital when singing against such a heavy and intense musical backdrop.

Recommended for those who like doom meets stoner rock and they prove on this album they deserve to be in the leading pack of current stoner/doom bands.  ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

TOMAS BERGSTEN’S FANTASY Caught In The Dark (7Chords Records)

Thirty years on from his first guitar lesson, Tomas Bergsten has re-visited some of his eighties songs from the time that he steered a Swedish AOR band called Fantasy.  He really shouldn’t have bothered.  The listener will immediately be assailed by terrible vocals with a no-no “foreigner sings in English” intonation.

“Names” Janne Stark (Locomotive Breath, Grand Design) and Bruce Kulick have been roped in for a couple of tracks but absolutely nothing can redeem this.  With a better vocalist (Goran Edman?) some songs might have been saved but overall it is a genre-cliched, time-warped, mess.

If Bergsten had resurrected original eighties recordings you might have applauded the, er, authenticity rather than the audacity.  But to re-visit like this it seems that nothing has moved on, not even Kulick’s pension fund.  A vanity project to avoid,  even if you are a salivating AOR freak for whom those melodic rocking Swedes can do no wrong.  *

Review by David Randall


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Power Plays w/c 24 June (Mon-Fri)

GUMSHOE When Things Started To Ignite (indie)
THE NEW ROSES Heartache (Napalm Records)
EMPYRE New Republic (indie)
PISTON Leave If You Dare (indie)
SPREAD EAGLE Sound Of Speed (Frontiers)

Featured Albums w/c 24 June (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FORTUNE II (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 BARBE-Q-BARBIES Borrowed Time (Dissonance)
14:00-16:00 HEATHER FINDLAY Wild Horses (Black Sand Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

ELEANOR McEVOY I’d Rather Go Blonde (2010)



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