Getting from concert stage to home stereo was so quick for Øresund Space Collective—astral travellers who specialise in totally improvised space rock—that some patrons were still driving home from the gig when the CD was released.
Live in Berlin album was recorded on the final night of their recent European tour, June 2nd, 2018. It was available from their website a mere three months later as a limited edition hand-numbered two-CD set (copies were still available at time of going to press).
Comprising five extended jams ranging from a smidge under half-an-hour down to a trim seventeen minutes, Øresund Space Collective certainly do what it says on the label: trip out with a cosmic determination that will delight fans of Hawkwind (ØSC are more jammy) or Ozric Tentacles (ØSC are less rhythmically trance).
Boasting members from Denmark, Sweden and the US, ØSC have been around since 2014 and first came to my notice on a gloriously haphazard six-CD box from Purple Pyramid Records (Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide,2016). So when Aussie-Byrd-Brother, wizard of all things prog, drew my attention to this band-produced set, I willingly took the plunge.
Compared to the carefully orchestrated performances of King Crimson, Øresund Space Collective are a much freer and looser affair. Here it is all about the vibe, man, and I can report that, in the right setting and with the right, er, accompaniments, Live in Berlin 2018 will give you the full festival experience.
“Improv To The Other Side” opens very gently. The first twelve minutes sound like Manual Göttsching (Ash Ra Temple) kicking back with a few Rhine Rieslings and serenading early summer stars. But as the drums flex and the synths assert themselves, a languid momentum starts to build until, by 20’, we are positively smokin’ through space. Ending improvised jams can be problematic. Øresund Space Collective manage this one with a slight ritardando, which works fine.
Jam Two is called “Sneaky Snake Jam”. It starts with a stoned Bo Diddley beat before an extended synth passage grooves us beyond and before. The middle section of this one gets bogged down in the rhythm section. No matter what Derek Smalls says, the bass is not an instrument for soloing. Perhaps the problem is that the whispering synth whooshes are mixed too far back. Anyway, when the guitar steps forward things spark up; the bass continues with Bo but the drums move into a rhythmic counterpoint, which works much better. That’s it for the first CD: two tracks, 45 minutes.
The second disc has three jams, the first two being my favourites on the album.
“Henk’s Jam-O-Rama” has lovely shifts in colour and tonality while always pushing towards the outer reaches. “Freaks of Berlin” is the most propulsive piece here, its forward momentum carried by the rock solid rhythm section while organ, guitar and synth jostle for dominance. It’s like a race through space and leaves you breathless. As space tends to do.
Live in Berlin 2018 is one for seasoned space rock explorers; its jammy nature might entangle cadets. But for those willing to go with the cosmic flow, it’s great fun. If Øresund Space Collective are on the bill at a festival near you, don your spacesuit and go.