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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

├śresund Space Collective

Good Planets are Hard to Find

Review by Julie Knispel

I have been listening to Good Planets Are Hard To Find, the latest release by Øresund Space Collective, for a few days now, and I am at a loss. I simply don’t know how to review this. This is not because I find the music lacking, or unenjoyable…it’s been a lovely soundtrack for 3 solid days of work. I am digging the vibe, the grooves, the heavy Indian influence (loads of sitar!). But I’m simply unable to figure out a good way to get this review started.

Øresund Space Collective releases small quantities of fully improvised space rock (this release, according to the band’s website, is limited to 1000 copies). Theirs is a sound that seems to fall generally speaking into the same branch of space rock as bands like Ozric Tentacles and Hidria Spacefolk in a lot of ways…trippy, groove oriented, instrumentals that sprawl out over 10 to 20 minutes in some cases, incorporating some heavy bass/drum groove interplay and a bit of playful musical sensibility. On this release, ØSC adds in copious amounts of sitar work, bringing a distinct eastern vibe to the proceedings. This isn’t space rock in the jackbooted alien, Hawkwind mode, not is it pataphysical humour-based like Gong…this is dance your arse off festival music.

I won’t say that space rock is a dirty secret for me…I certainly enjoy quite a bit of it. And I enjoy Good Planets Are Hard To Find, much as I have enjoyed other material I’ve heard Øresund Space Collective. But this is not music that rewards focused, attentive listening. Sit back and groove to it, or better yet, get up and dance to it. Play it at your next party. Take it for what it is…lengthy excursions to the further reaches of altered consciousness…

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Good Planets are Hard to Find
The album opens with its title track, filled to the brim with infectious beats and enough sitar for a Bollywood spectacular.  Analogue and digital synths battle for position in the mix, with sweeps and a good selection of beeps and bleeps hovering like alien ships above the sitar foundation.
Space Fountain
I have to admit that on first listen I was certain this was the second section of the opening track…such was how I was lulled into an odd state by the trance-like mood of the title track.  “Space Fountain” sees the band in heavier space rock format, with searing electric guitar and rich, warm organ in lieu of the normally dominant synth.  A small bit of blues feel slips into the playing from time to time, but make no mistake, this is well and truly space rock at its most expansive and cosmic.
Orbital Elevator
“Orbital Elevator” does this a bit better and a bit heavier, with some nicely sweeping synths and a good bit of crunchy rhythm guitar. If anything, songs like this one and the preceding “Space Fountain” could do with a bit more heaviness, and if there is a complaint to be made about this release, it’s that…so much of the album rests in a comfortable rhythmic groove that the band seems to not want to leave.
PF747-3
The longest track on GPAHTF by six seconds (19:35 to 19:28), “PF747-3”s title implies several space rock/aeronautical elements; Pink Floyd, Boeing airliners, and so on.  The mood is a bit laid back, the guitar playing subtle, and synthesizer work takes the fore, with just a hint of square wave buzz to warm things up.  Like so much of the music on this release, the emphasis is on slow evolution of mood and themes, and “PF747-3” fits these characteristics to a T.
My Heel has a Beard
The album’s longest track is followed by it’s shortest; at 6:01, “My Heel has a Beard” is nearly 3 minutes shorter than any other song on the release.  Swirling synths and wind noise create a vast canvas for the band to work from.  A nice bass line rises out of the sonic maelstrom, and the song gradually builds with bass and increasing amounts of synth twisting like clouds of charged gas at the center of some distant nebula.  There’s finally some fairly quick playing here, and it shows what these guys can do in a more rock-based arena.
MTSST
A bit more tempo change from track to track would do wonders for me. In some ways, “MTSST” best exemplifies this…there’s a touch of rhythmic/tempo shift throughout the track’s 19:28 length, but overall the song isn’t something that can be easily focused on the entire time. That doesn’t mean I don’t groove to its spacey sitar laced goodness…but it does mean that focused listening does not do the piece any amazing wonders.
 
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