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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kosmos (Canada)

Kosmos

Review by Gary Hill

My understanding of what this band sounded like before I actually heard them was a more traditionally prog version of Hawkwind. Well, I’m not sure that’s quite the vibe I came away with. Mind you, that’s mostly because it’s too limiting of a label. Sure, there are good chunks of both Hawkwind and traditional prog in the mix, but we get plenty of other stuff, too. One song has a bit of a punk rock texture to it, several others call to mind the guitar hero era of the 1970’s. It’s all put together in a mix that is quite varied and pretty much always entertaining. There’s only one track here that I’d consider a misstep in any way. The rest of the disc never fails to surprise and entertain. I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who likes vintage space rock, classic prog, or smoking retro textured guitar rock and isn’t afraid of a little bit of adventure in their music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Psycho
A definite Hawkwind vibe leads this off and holds it for a short time, but then the group burst out into a killer jam that’s one part Kansas, one part jazz and one part Jethro Tull. This is fiery powerful prog rock with lots of classic rock elements merging over the top. It’s a heaping slab of the 1970’s with a modern flavor. They move back into more space rock jams before a smoking retro keyboard solo takes it. Then, a little before the three minute mark, they take it out into more space with a driving bass line serving as the back drop for waves of Hawk-like keys. Those keys drop away and just the bass holds it for a while until they power back out into another stellar prog jam. This gets some 1970’s Kansas style guitar soloing thrown over it for a while. The whole thing is a powerhouse tasty jam that makes for a great intro to the disc.
Dream
A drum machine type rhythm gives way to keyboards that make one think of the more ambient, keyboard based sounds of Hawkwind. I also hear a bit of that similar mode from mid-era Steve Miller Band, too, though. This serves as a nice respite from the fury of the opening salvo. Some wooshing Hawkwind-like keys enter over this motif later on and take it into more definite space territory.
Grand Grizou
A crunchy guitar leads this one off in a classic rock mode a bit like Montrose or Mountain. Then a short burst of space takes over before they launch into a guitar based prog rock jam that is definitely firmly rooted in the guitar hero era. Keyboards weave a trail of melody over the top of a guitar backdrop that feels like it would have been at home on a vintage Ted Nugent album. Keys and guitar seem to dance around one another at times and during other points on the disc they seem to fight for control. This is another scorcher.
Yawa
This short (under a minute) number is nothing more than weird keyboard based sound effects. It’s cool simply because it’s as short as it is because something like this wears out its welcome fast.
Indu Kush
Sitar sounds and an almost tribal chanting lead this off in a very twisted psychedelic manner. This doesn’t rise far from there. Instead they power up the drumming on the track and the tribal chanting leads it onward. While this is kind of interesting, it doesn’t do a lot for me. It definitely goes on too long.
Much Too Old
Here we get a hard rocking response to get things back up in style. This definitely has a lot of that crunchy Hawkwind sound, but also have a rather punky vocal line and some weird textures that are hard to put a finger on. It’s a nice change of pace from the instrumental and nearly instrumental modes of what we’ve heard thus far. It’s definitely raw and fun.
Kosmos
A great counterpoint to the fury of the last track, this is more ambient keyboard based sound effects type music.
Krautrock
Rising up gradually this has more pure Hawkwind elements as it comes in. It turns to more energized versions of these sounds to carry onward and then eventually drops back to ambience to end.
Septial
This is a great spacey keyboard solo.
Amerique Innavouable
Here we get a smoking hard rocking cut with what I think are French lyrics. At least the vocals are delivered with a French accent and they sure sound French to me. This is another screamer, if a bit strange.
Mothership
More ambient weirdness, this still manages to maintain a bit of a cool space groove and is a cool track. It moves into neo-tribal drumming as it moves forward.
Messe Noire
They close the disc with another hard rocking jam that’s one part classic guitar rock, one part Hawkwind and all rock to the highest degree. When a retro keyboard solo takes it this begins to resemble vintage Deep Purple quite a bit. This segment takes the track down to an even more powerful mode. It starts as just keys and percussion, but then a dramatic and potent plodding movement rises up from there and the cut takes on almost metallic leanings. Eventually this moves out into a sort of merging of itself with the earlier modes of the cut. It’s a great way to breathe new life into the same progression. Later on they drop it to Doors-like keyboard solo segment that closes the song. This is a great choice to end things with its tasty riff and smoking instrumental performances. It’s a great way to get the listener to hit the “play” button all over again.
 
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