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(38:14, Musea Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Space Cheap Trip 3:16 2. Turn Me on Dead Man 3:01 3. Gonokokh 2:49 4. Krell Music 5:02 5. Take Me to Your Leader 3:43 6. Ou Piknip 1:31 7. Purple Moonlight 3:14 8. Plastic People Will Never Die 2:45 9. Zuble Land 5:55 10. Ublaie Stoned 2:09 11. Many Happy Returns 4:48 LINEUP: Ian Marek – guitar; violin; theremin El Jibi – keyboards, electronics Remi – drums, percussion
Prolusion. The French trio SPIRIT OF THE MATTER (SOTM from now on) has been an active producer of music since 2007, with a total of five releases to their name since then. All of these have been privately issued and, now available, these efforts have been largely unknown, as are most other facts about this act besides the names of the band members. "Zuble Land" was first made available in 2009, and in late summer of 2010 Musea Records reissued it on their Musea Parallele imprint.
Analysis. This album, as well as the other productions by SOTM, consists of enhanced live recordings. That is, the basics of the songs themselves are recorded live, but not completed until additional effects and textures have been applied in the studio. Why they have chosen to work in this manner isn't stated, but an educated guess may be that they want to capture the vitality of the live setting while also being able to stretch the instrumental and musical limitations that apply to a trio on stage. Their chosen stylistic expression is probably best described as space rock. Not in the manner of well-known acts like Hawkwind or Pink Floyd and for those whose knowledge of the genre doesn't stretch beyond these household names. "Zuble Land" is a production that might yield some surprising musical encounters; possibly close ones of the third kind – to paraphrase a well-known movie whose theme fits in quite nicely here. If one were to draw comparisons to other familiar artists, the band itself namedrop the German act Can as a likely candidate. And while I'm not intimately familiar with their various endeavors, there are most certainly many tendencies from the krautrock scene apparent in this case. Repetitive instrumental patterns and hypnotic rhythms are common traits, while fragmented instrumental details, briefly occurring motifs and reverberating echoing sounds are central throughout. Conventional compositions and melodies aren't the easiest of aspects to find either, and the often distinctly improvisational nature of these efforts is very much of a kind krautrock aficionados should regard as familiar. Droning theremin textures, futuristic sounds and space-inspired keyboard layers are the traits that make the space rock tag applicable and natural in this case, and the careful but effective use of the violin actually strengthens this aspect in the manner it is utilized on this creation. There's a good variety to these tracks: from the freakish sound collage of title track Zuble Land to the sleepy, dampened yet hypnotic melodic emphasis of final track Many Happy Return, this is a bold, well-made and often adventurous production, where unpredictability arguably is the most distinct feature.
Conclusion. If you enjoy your space rock as well as your krautrock, or if you're merely interested in exploring a band with a bolded approach to the former genre than what is common, SOTM is an act well worth investigating further. And krautrock fans who don't mind dealing with music where futuristic and space-inspired effects are utilized should also find this to be material worthy of interest.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Jan 13, 2010
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