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TRACK LIST: 1. Standing on the Edge 2:36 2. Manhole of the Universe 16:01 3. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Buddha 6:42 4. Motorik Jam 8:08 5. Screaming and Streaming into the Starlit Nite 9:59 6. The Return of the Maggot Brain 7:00 7. Spaceman Bubblegum 12:31 LINEUP: Pete Bingham – guitars Glenda Pescado – bass Lee Relfe – saxophone Jack Jackson – drums Lord Armstrong Sealand – theremin; synthesizers With: Gavin Lloyd Wilson – guitars
Prolusion. The British (Welsh) band SENDELICA appeared on the scene as recording artists back in 2007, and since then they have become an increasingly more productive unit with studio and live albums released on a multitude of labels world-wide, in addition to numerous self-released recordings, with twelve albums, EPs and compilations to their name thus far. "Live at Crabstock" is their third live album, released in 2014.
Analysis. While live albums rarely have been among the most popular productions by an artist, there are bands out there that, for some reason or other, just come across as more intriguing on stage than they do on a studio album. Sendelica is among the bands that, at least so far, have suffered from this curse – or blessing, depending on point of view – so seeing them release a good number of live albums is a good thing. At least as I experience them, they do bring with a vitality on stage that, generally speaking, is rather more intriguing. Capturing that vitality on a live album is, of course, not always the easiest, as a live experience is about more than just the music itself. The mood and atmosphere of a live performance are details rather difficult to record, and the sound conveyed to the audience and the sounds captured by the recording equipment may not always be comparable either. In this case the recording quality is just a bit unbalanced, with synthesizers, theremin and occasionally the saxophone disappearing in the mix on occasion, and the overall sound comes across as a bit closed in. In other words, this is not a high-quality, high-definition live recording. On the other hand, this live album doesn't appear to have been given any mix or production makeovers either, so if you are in the mood for a true, purebred live album then "Live at Crabstock" comes across as just that. An honest representation of how Sendelica's set at the Fruits the Mer Records ‘Festival of Psychedelia’ was. The band's take on psychedelic and space rock is a compelling one at best, and they appear to be best described as an instrumental band in this genre, and one that has a tendency to end up exploring territories not too far removed from Hawkwind. They do borrow some Hawkwind riffs on occasion, as supplemental details for their various forays or as key details that form the foundation for their quasi-improvised escapades. This aspect of their material does dominate ever so slightly here, with opening track Standing on the Edge the most obvious among them. The dark toned, beefy riffs, psychedelic guitar soloing and effects combine nicely with synthesizer textures and cosmic sounds throughout, with a liberal amount of saxophone soloing added to the mix, where the major variation is the guitar, providing lighter toned details on occasion and having more of a supplemental role in the proceedings. In terms of style they also venture out to a sound that, to my ears, appears to be closer to the old UFO, a band that started out as a psychedelic and space rock-oriented affair prior to developing into a hard rock band. A further variation of note is early Pink Floyd, and Sendelica borrows some key details from them on their brilliant Set the Controls for the Heart of the Buddha, an exotic-flavored piece of space rock that, for me, is this band's brightest moment so far, and one that shines just as bright in this live rendition.
Conclusion. With a steadily increasing number of recordings and live shows to its credit, Sendelica is becoming quite the solid name for those with an interest in vintage instrumental space rock. Their charming habit of incorporating familiar-sounding details into their songs and their tendency to have their best moments live on stage is a combination that makes their live albums arguably more interesting than their studio recordings. In this case it's an honest live album, not a perfect specimen in terms of mix or balance, but an honest representation of a quality live band using their guitars, theremin, synthesizer and saxophone to create compelling instrumental space rock. A production that merits an inspection if that sounds like a compelling description to you.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 20, 2015
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