SPACE IS DEEP

When I first wrote about Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide half a decade ago, this is how I began:

This recent release ticks all the wrong boxes: CD not vinyl, yet another compilation, probably too much of a good thing, odd-shaped package impossible to file… yet Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide is my CD of the year. 

Dear reader, I was not entirely frank and full in my disclosure. Not exactly a lie, but bullshit. What was not revealed at the time was how far through the six CDs I’d actually got at the point of posting. Let me tell you now, a smidge over five years later: two. That’s correct, a measly third of the way through the galaxy of sounds contained within this 195mm x 195mm box. To be fair, there is a lot of music here. Over seven hours, in fact. Still, I feel better about clearing the air. And progress has been made. This very day Disc Six received its second listen, the official Vinyl Connection stipulation prior to an acquisition being filed. And what timing! Cleopatra Records have just re-issued the boxed set, meaning that space cadets may be able to avoid being sucked dry by the alien vampires of Discogs.

The set includes artists from the early days of space exploration (Can, Gong, Faust, Hawkwind) as well as 21st century psychoonauts such as Øresund Space Collective, Yuri Gagarin and Magic Wands. But what really impresses about this collection is how international it is. Øresund Space Collective, for example, are a collective of musicians from across Scandinavia. But there’s more coverage here than the World Cup.

Pyramidal – Spain

Equations – Portugal

Hydravion – France

Space Debris – Germany

Omega – Hungary

Vespero – Russia

Black Rainbows – Italy

Naxatras – Greece

Dark Buddha Rising – Finland

Sun Araw – California

The Dunes – Australia

An Emerald City – New Zealand

Plus, of course, plenty of artists from the UK and USA.

The range of music crosses as many genre boundaries as international frontiers. From psychedelic folk through to punishing drone-rock, space, it is clear, contains diverse lifeforms. The music surges and soars, pounds and pulsates, whispers and whooshes… it is a truly cosmic trip.

The accompanying booklet is detailed and well written, with an introductory essay by Dave Thompson. Band introductions are mostly good, though a few more dates would help anchor the selections in the space-time continuum; musically, if not astronomically. And I wish compilations would include track times. I really like to know whether I’m settling in for an expedition to Mars or a stroll to the local head shop. But we won’t dwell on that one omission, especially when the glorious art work is there to be appreciated. Straight out of 1950s pulp magazines such as Tit Bits and Galaxy, the uncredited retro sci-fi images are a total delight. 

Space is deep. So, it seems, are the archives of space rock.

Space Rock: An Interstellar Traveler’s Guide [Cleopatra Records, 2016/2022]

16 comments

  1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    My lands! Like wow! I like the line about the track durations, the stroll vs trek to Mars. Sweet write up here Bruce. Half a decade ago you started eh? Wow…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many albums, so little time. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As an old progger, this looks great although maybe a bit rich for my blood. Just reading the titles and the band names is fun and I’ll check some out online.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can have too much of a good thing, Rick. 🙂 I think that’s why it took me so long to work through it. Same problem with the Van Der Graaf Generator box from last year. Massive! Look out for a review in 2030.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I generally like space rock, so I guess I should check out that mega box set. The variety of featured bands really looks impressive. Well, as I just verified, the entire box set is available in Spotify. The only question is, how am I going to find 7 hours? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could spread the listening across a few years, as I did?!

      Like

      1. That’s probably the only way to tackle it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a pretty cool set regardless of what it sounds like. Things like this are always tempting to pick up even if you don’t know anything about it just from the packaging alone. Nice find!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. Yeah, I’m easily seduced by attractive packaging. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can be lured by it as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I recognized only one artist’s name immediately: Alice Cooper. Then, upon reflection, I realized I knew two others because of reading about them in your posts: Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. So you’re clearly contributing to my ongoing musical education. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to be of service, JDB! Actually, the Alice track is a bit of a con. Just a couple of minutes from a very early live gig. Still, a monster box.

      Like

  6. I’m a big space rock fan, and know many (though not all) of the groups featured on that album. You might be interested in this piece, which documents my own small, weird contribution to the genre . . .

    https://jericsmith.com/2012/05/07/blanga-the-story/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will check it out. Thanks JES!

      Like

  7. not familiar with a lot of these bands, but man that album art is dope as hell

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ain’t it just? Apparently they simply trawled 50s and 60s sci-fi magazines and licensed the images they liked.

      Like

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