Posts Tagged ‘Space Rock’

Klanggalerie – 5th December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

From the Greek xénos, a noun meaning “stranger, guest” or an adjective meaning “foreign, strange”, xeno has come to used as a prefix meaning “alien,” “strange,” or “guest.” Meanwhile, ‘lith’ refers to a stone (making megalith and monolith self-explanatory).

Elliott Sharp’s power trio Bootstrappers’ brand of free jazz / classic rock crossover, they say, is ‘filtered through the ethos of cyberpunk, techno, and free jazz: raging, psychedelic, and filled with fantastic extrapolations’, and since the group’s inception in 1990, they’ve undergone numerous changes in lineup, but the ethos has remained the same, meaning that this offering truly is a strange stone – one that’s hard and soft, smooth and rough, not just in different places, but in some patches, all at once. Such a stone should be geologically impossible, but then, so should the sensory explosion of the seven wildly varied and inventive compositions here, courtesy of Sharp, along with Melvin Gibbs and Don McKenzie.

If the first, ‘Telentechy’ is, at least on the surface, a fairly standard jazz-leaning rock workout, it also possesses enough detail and enough changes to render it rather more. It does seem customary for many such acts to open an album with a track that sounds like a slowly-winding down finale at the end of an hour-long live performance, and this track just does just that, but where so many similar acts lose my attention is in making every subsequent piece sound like another eight-minute winddown and seventy minutes later you’ve had nothing but a crashing, discordant conclusion and not a lot else. So while Bootstrappers do essentially begin at the end, and have numerous sprawling, somewhat formless expanses of barely-contained chaos on Xenolith, they also present numerous changes in mood and tempo, even approximating structural form in places.

‘Sieze the Mement’ is a wibbly, noodlesome piece that evokes eastern scales while also hinting at a dizzying progressive / Krautrock crossover. Immediately after, and after bouncing along for about four and a half minutes, I suddenly realise that ‘Lo Shu’ has grown quite funky in its groove… but then just as the dawning occurs, so the groove melts and dissipates into so much flickering light.

There is a lot going on, but where Bootstrappers succeeds and stand apart is their being only three: this necessitates more minimal arrangements and means they’re not prone to the spells of chaotic discoordination whereby it sounds like six people playing six different tunes in different keys and different time signatures, and instead feels altogether more focused for the most part, and as a result, they do pitch into some nice grooves that you can really get into.

According to their bio, ‘Future editions of Bootstrappers may see the group expand to orchestral dimensions’. While this may be an exciting evolution, Xenolith evidences that they’re fine just as they are right now.

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New Heavy Sounds – 30th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

This dubiously-monikered stoner doom foursome have come a long way since their self-released cassette debut crawled from deepest, darkest Wrexham: containing just one thirty-minute track, Nachthexen was a behemoth alright, but while it hinted at the juxtaposition of throbbing riffs and soaring, choral vocals that has become their trademark, it gave no indication of just how much, and how quickly, they would hone and refine their megalithic sound.

Noeth Ac Anoeth was truly a beast of an album, which saw them shifting further from the standard doom tropes to forge a more unique sound, and, following less than a year later, Y Proffwyd Dwyll shows a further evolutionary leap that’s s colossal as the riffs they grind out. For their latest outing, they’ve gone pop. Well, ok, no they haven’t, but the songs are notable not for their immensity, but their concision. The fact the album contains six tracks gives an indication of their newfound brevity, with not a single track extending beyond the ten-minute mark.

The melodies are strong and there are distinct and remarkably memorable choruses here. Jessica Ball’s vocals are the band’s trump card, the key aspects which not only separates MWWB from their peers and every other doom / stoner band around, but renders them essentially unique. No guttural snarling here: her vocal style is wonderfully tuneful, soaring, ethereal, and despite the churning guitar backdrop, MWWB stand comparison with acts like Curve, Cranes, and the shuddering, horrific beauty of Chelsea Wolfe.

The heavily chorused guitar on the intro to ‘Testudo’ is pure Cure, but naturally paves the way for some crushing, low-BPM riffology. Even so, the way that they work tonal and textural variations and the overall dynamics within the song structures and across the album as a whole is impressive.

Closer ‘Cithuula’ is the most straight-ahead heavy rocker, a crawling Sabbathesque beast of a tune. A blitzkrieg of space synths not only add texture and depth, but alter the overall feel of the album. This is no straightforward doom album. In fact, it’s not a straightforward album, period: it’s a genre-bending effort and an album of real depth that stands proudly on its own. It’s also really, really good.

 

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