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(79:50, Transubstans Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Good Planets Are Hard to Find 9:43 2. Space Fountain 8:51 3. Orbital Elevator 16:12 4. PP746-3 19:35 5. My Heel Has a Beard 6:01 6. MTSST 19:28 LINEUP: Tobias – guitars KG – sitar, guitar; Hammond Mogens – Hammond, synthesizers Dr. Space – synthesizers PIB – drums Jocke – bass Thomas – bass Luz – percussion
Prolusion. Danish based multinational outfit ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE (OSC from now on) was formed in the spring of 2004, and has been active as a live as well as a recording unit since that time. In five years they have issued about a dozen CD-R albums, which are more or less official bootlegs, and a number of more embellished productions as CDs – most of them on the Swedish label Transubstans Records. "Good Planets Are Hard to Find" is their fifth official release, and their fourth released on this label.
Analysis. For this production, recorded late in 2007, a number of musicians were involved that previously hadn't recorded with this musical collective, KG from the band Sienna Root arguably the most renowned of these. The mix of this effort was done by Steve Hayes of Secret Saucer fame, which added different dynamics to the finalized sound of this production. With those biographical tidbits covered, one might expect this venture to be radically different from previous excursions by OSC. But intriguingly enough it isn't. As with previous efforts from this outfit we're still talking about selected parts of improvised space rock jams recorded live in studio, where none of the tracks feature a start or an ending as such – each exploration fades in from an ongoing jam and fades out before it has finished. The rhythm section sets up a firm foundation for synths, keyboards and guitars to revolve around, and the key feature in the sonic tapestries are the guitars’ ever-evolving patterns where one takes a leading role, often with a soloing sequence as the highlight before its contribution is dissolved or fragmented into a subservient role, as the second guitar takes over the dominating spot. Keyboards and synths add textures, and the guitar with the secondary role at any given time serves up fragmented spacey sounds, licks and riffs of a distinct psychedelic nature enriching the sonic tapestries created. Existing followers of the band will note that the guitars generally dominate more on this album though; the soundscapes are generally sparser, and keyboards and synths are rather more sparingly used than on past efforts. There are few instances of these instruments dominating any segments or tracks as such; instead the bass guitar is given a more prominent role in the proceedings. And generally speaking, the soundscapes aren't as busy as on past excursions either; the band allowing segments to be mellow and sparse without filling in layered synths and keyboards to a greater extent this time around. The aforementioned KG from Sienna Root is the one to serve up the most radical change in direction on this venture though. On the opening and closing jams the sitar takes the place of one of the guitars and is given a dominating spot throughout both excursions, adding a highly distinct raga flavor to the band’s space rock jam. Both explorations follow pretty similar patterns to the band's other musical journeys, but the dynamics of the sitar does create a distinct atmosphere that really suits this brand of music. Personally I did find the transitional phases to be somewhat lengthy on this disc, and I get the impression that when searching for a new main direction to the jam, these new musicians involved basically need more time. On the other hand, once a direction has been settled upon the following parts of these jams are arguably even tighter than before; the second half of final track MTSST is in my perception among the best this band has ever made.
Conclusion. In a period of five years OSC has established themselves as one of the leading bands pursuing improvised space rock, and their most recent effort "Good Planets Are Hard to Find" is on level with their past excursions. Fans of this stylistic expression in general and this band in particular should find their needs nicely catered for on this venture, and those curious about improvised space rock should find this album a good introduction to what it is all about.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 14, 2009
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