Care for some Hed? Church Of Hed's fusion of trance-electronica and 70s space-rock is now available in the form of a light, compact, self-titled mini-LP format CD. Loops, filter sweeps, and analog strangeness galore, the synthetic carousel encountered herein is complemented by real drums, bass, and lead vocals by C.o.H. stalwart and Quarkspace drummer Paul Williams. You won't hear any cheap-sounding patches or presets on this—Williams either utilizes faithfully warm emulations, or the real deal, or both. Members of Quarkspace, The Red Masque, Nomuzik and other groups join Williams on bass, synthesizers, and backing vocals—interesting credits, indeed: the Archbishop of Budweiser, Monsignor Nomuzik, Sister Mary Haruspex, etc. The last one should be a dead giveaway—that's Lynnette Shelley of The Red Masque, her pseudonym taken from the band's latest album.
"The Lone Freak" freaks out into trance overdrive with potent efficiency, coming down with full force on bedsprings of gestating swells and gyrating rhythms. "Axiom One" is quite the opposite, calm without being somnolent, ripples of deep bass surging across the mix. Perhaps this track needs its own genre—space dub? The album's namesake track is a cautionary tone poem built on razor-sharp conveyor belt sequences and a probing square-wave lead. Williams' does the nigh-impossible and melds his live drumming with the otherworldly chaos—magnifico! The ambient space of "Requiem One" is the second cousin of Steve Roach's Structures From Silence with its insular freedom. One of the best tracks, the mesmeric "Cathedral Ice Revival" patterns itself after early 80s Tangerine Dream; Mellotron-like choirs and a static tempo are components of the Teutonic Blueprint—long-sustained notes and mechanical sequences extract their own designs.
The web of warmth is dismantled by "Blue Freaky," a frenzied soup of clustered buzzing, whirring and clanging. An aptly analog lead graces "Requiem Two," a three-minute, thirty-second canvas on which Williams paints the virtues of raw analog power—listen to those filter sweeps. With a wonderfully minimalistic approach, and its tasty, authentic-sounding reverbed Rhodes, "Alpha Century Leisuretime" ushers the listener through eleventeen minutes of delectable electro-space; it could last for another nine minutes or twenty-nine, pure magic. Thom The World Poet (spelled backwards) cues in with an eerie spoken vocal bit. "Northern Songs" features vocals—very nice, but the sonic palette on Church Of Hed is so rich, it should've just been another instrumental.