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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Space Mirrors

Cosmic Horror I: In Darkness They Whisper

Review by Gary Hill

Space rock is the main musical theme here, with a lot of this feeling a bit like Hawkwind. That said, we get more metal at times, some RIO at others and a lot more. The lineup does include some guests who have been in Hawkwind so that Hawk comparison is logical.  Alisa Coral and Martyr Lucifer  are the main contributors. The Hawkwind alums who are included here are Alan Davey and Nik Turner. In addition, Massimo Arke, Fabio Bartolini, Sparky Simmons, John Pack, Cyndee Lee Rule, Allen Welty-Green, Bjorn Jeppesen and A.G. Bergstein all appear on the release.  Many of the songs are related to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, and that means that this album will be featured when I do an updated version of The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft in 2016.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Shadow Over Innsmouth
A noisy sort of space rock meets old school science fiction music is what we get here. The vocals are more spoken than sung, but not completely spoken. There are some rather metallic moments as this continues and it’s a cool tune and a great way to start things in style. It certainly has a lot in common with Rock in Opposition at times, too. It gets pretty noisy later in the piece, as the cultist chanting is heard. It works to more melodic sounds after that.
Silver Key
Hawkwind like keyboard based space music opens this one. As it pounds out into the song proper it seems to have a bit of a punk pop sound mixed with that Hawkwind sound. It works into a more complex and almost traditional progressive rock movement from there. There is still plenty of that Hawkwind sound there, though. Noisier space takes it for a time before it works to a more stripped back and melodic arrangement for some of the most melodic vocals of the set.
Geometry of Witchcraft
Somehow the vocals on this remind me of Kraftwerk, but the music is more like Hawkwind. It powers through in fine form. There are sections later that seem closer to heavy metal and we even get some extreme metal vocals in the mix. Further down the road it moves into something more akin to traditional progressive rock, but with a bit of crunch as the guitar solos overhead. The extended instrumental section that is encompassed by that sound really has a lot of classic rock built into it. Some processed vocals show up near the end to reinforce that Kraftwerk reference from earlier.
In Darkness They Whisper
There is a short, rather spooky atmospheric instrumental section to open this. From there, we get a pounding sort of metal meets space rock arrangement. It turns to noisy, RIO like weirdness for processed female vocals. More metallic space rock takes over beyond that to take the piece out with some killer instrumental work.
Rue d'Auseil is Missing
Starting with something like a processional, symphonic version of RIO, this works out from there into some metallic space rock that eventually turns to nearly metal with space rock as the icing on the cake. It’s a killer jam that works through a number of changes and features some interstellar instrumental work. At times it is definitely Hawkwind-like.
Cats Of Ulthar
Very much more like space pure space rock, there’s a great indie vibe to this in a lot of ways. It pounds out and it definitely has sort of a garage meets Hawkwind kind of sound. Then around the two minute mark it powers out to some more metallic high energy rocking. That’s where the vocals come in and move it all forward. There is definitely still a lot of Hawkwind in the mix, particularly with the waves of keyboards over the top of it. It gets kind of noisy and chaotic as jamming ensues later in the piece.
The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath (Suite in 8 acts):
    
Act I: Chambers of Azatoth
A fiery, metallic romper with space rock and world music seeming to fight over the top, this instrumental starts the epic off in fine fashion.
Act II: Through the Dream Lands
Coming straight out of the previous tune, this number feels like a cross between the heavier sounds of Gunslinger (Alan Davey’s current band) and Levitation era Hawkwind. It’s a killer number that’s very effective.
Act III: From Dylath-Leen to the Dark Side of The Moon
A more melodic, but still crunchy and heavy jam brings this one out of the previous piece. It seriously pounds out after that melodic transition, though. Then we get more melodic sounds before it transitions into the next movement.
Act IV: Moon Battle of Cats
– Killer saxophone soloing brings a rather jazzy element to the table on this, but the pounding rhythm section continues that heavy, Hawkwind-like sound.
Act V: To Ngranek
Continuing the musical themes and concepts, this feels a lot like Hawkwind in a lot of ways.
Act VI: Face of God
There’s a plodding, pounding sort of arrangement on this movement, yet it’s still quite melodic in many ways. They speed it up during an almost epic metal like section later.
Act VII: Leng/The Crawling Chaos
Mellower and more melodic, the vocals here are strictly spoken and there’s some more saxophone in the mix. It’s a piece of variety that’s very tasty.
Act VIII: Morning in Marvellous City
While the closer starts off mellow, it quickly powers out into more Hawkwind-like music. In fact, in a lot of ways this is far more like Hawkwind than anything else here. It’s also one of the more dynamic cuts and it’s arguably the best piece on the whole disc. It’s definitely a winner.
 
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