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Spirits Burning - 2006 - "Found in Nature"

(64 min, Mellow)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                    

1.  Burning Bush 5:43
2.  Darker Bows of Rain 5:27
3.  Dolmen 4:49
4.  Variable Shades of Friendship 3:34
5.  Oak 4:11
6.  Ingredients 9:23
7.  Chiaro 3:31
8.  Unrepaired Roads 1:54
9.  Raksasha-Loka 4:22
10. Blue Wings 2:44
11. Shadow Paws 3:39
12. Foghorns & Phantoms 1:42
13. Streetsweeping Sauce 2:03
14. Wilder Beams of Moon 3:40
15. The Ancient Structure 3:11
16. Your Last Call 4:44

LINEUP:

Don Marino Falcone - keyboards; bass
Daevid Allen - guitars
Michael Clare - bass 
Gary Parra - drums
& many others

Prolusion. SPIRITS BURNING is a free-will multi-participant association founded by American musician, composer and producer Don Falcone back in 1998 - soon after the break-up of the actual Spirits Burning band which had existed since 1986, without having any releases, although they took part in a couple tribute albums. Their debut CD, "New Worlds By Design", was released in 1999 and was followed by "Reflections in a Radio Shower" in 2002. Apart from the commander, Don, and the three permanent players whose names you can see in the lineup above, the third Spirits Burning offering, "Found in Nature", comprises numerous contributors - no less than 30 this time around, though "as usual" would probably be a more appropriate conclusion for this sentence.

Analysis. So, the project's collective exploration of the depths of Space Rock is already eight years old. Being acquainted with their work, I can assert that Spirits Burning are, say, in their element on their new album too, the only significant difference between it and the preceding one lying in the fact that there are no real songs among the 16 tracks on "Found in Nature", the majority of them being purely instrumental. While Space Rock as such rules everywhere on the recording, the compositions are as if calling the listener to divide them into four categories - on the basis of their belonging to one or another of the genre's manifestations, and they indeed can be subjected to classification. Let's go? Then the first category would include pieces that are composed throughout (well, almost throughout, because the elicitation of spacey effects from synthesizers ensues not from a thought process), namely Darker Bows of Rain, Oak and Chiaro, all being striking for their strong symphonic component. Darker Bows of Rain is less diverse than its neighbors-in-style, but there is something transcendental in this tune, even though the music is centered on menacing low-pitched passages of synthesizer. Listen to it with headphones. The acoustic guitar- and the piano-laden Oak and Chiaro (respectively) are the works of symphonic Space Rock of the first water, very beautiful and resourceful alike, and only these two are totally free of any psychedelic features. Both are among the highlights of this disc, though the most compelling compositions are yet to be named. The second kind comprises a group of pieces whose music is half-composed and half-improvised. These are Ingredients, Raksasha-Loka, Blue Wings, Shadow Paws, Dolmen and Wilder Beams of Moon (please only take note that the musicians deal exclusively with Rock improvisations here). Unlike the aforesaid three cuts, none of these six sound like anything pronouncedly fresh, but the presence of influences does not diminish their pan-musical values. The longest track, Ingredients (9:23), opens with a set of spacey effects that 'fly' to the powerful drumming during the first two minutes. The remainder is one long Space Rock-meets-Indian Raga jam, which instantly evokes Gong's "You" and, just consequently, "Fish Rising" by Steve Hillage. Upon the first spin, you may find this composition to be overextended, but give it a couple more listens and you will be rewarded, since the music is abundant in hidden nuances. Personally I find Ingredients to be the second best track on this disc. The percussion-driven Raksasha-Loka is reminiscent of the first two periods of the Radio Gnome-era:-) Gong and has some sense of the exotic too. Well, excluding the finale, which, with its swirling synthesizer, fluid guitar, impulsive bass and groovy rhythm-section, sounds very much like late-'80s Hawkwind, which in turn is what the next two tracks, Blue Wings and Shadow Paws, suggest in their entirety. The two with some really hard elements in their construction, Dolmen and Wilder Beams of Moon are also notable for their relatively many changes in direction etc. On the other hand however, some of the movements are clearly spontaneous, the related textures being surely indistinct - psychedelia is the word. The third category includes pieces where the music is mostly improvised. Burning Bush, Variable Shades of Friendship, The Ancient Structure and Unrepaired Roads (the former three concluding the line of highlights) - each is genuine Space Fusion, especially bright jazz improvisations on the part of a saxophone and a violin. Full of efficient dynamic contrasts, Burning Bush is the most diverse and simply progressive composition on the album, displaying also the best ensemble work that can ever be found anywhere here. The other three are all built around violin passages, though Variable Shades of Friendship stands out for its Afro-aboriginal-sounding percussion in addition. The remaining three tracks, Your Last Call, Foghorns & Phantoms and Streetsweeping Sauce, are all ordinary space music. Well, the introductory theme of the former piece is an expressive and intense jam, but it's short, whilst later on there is nothing apart from the slowly droning synthesizer and those ubiquitous spacey effects.

Conclusion. Still nothing new in the field of Space Rock, from Spirits Burning in particular, but many philosophers say there is generally nothing new under the sun. To be less abstract, excluding the three tracks described last, "Found in Nature" is overall a strong collection of instrumental tunes reflecting multifaceted tendencies adopted within that genre, some being really transporting. Recommended to those preferring:-) to travel in space by means of such a universal carrier as music.

VM: November 13, 2006


Related Links:

Mellow Records
Spirits Burning


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