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Spirits Burning: Alien Injection

The fourth album by the Spirits Burning collective reads like an awards list for space rock enthusiasts, featuring donations from Don Falcone (Weird Biscuit Teatime), Daevid Allen, Michael Moorcock, Pete Pavli (High Tide), Adrian Shaw (Bevis Frond), Larry Thrasher (Psychic TV), and Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind), plus members of Dark Sun, Melting Euphoria, Mushroom, Quarkspace, Secret Saucer, ST 37, University of Errors, and others. The early contributions concentrate on the guitar riffs but later works bring in more exotic instruments with a particular emphasis on strings. The opening, title track from Don Falcone, who compiled and produced this collection, is a sleazy commentary on sex with washed out guitar chords underpinned by synths and a grinding rhythm. "The New Religion" is actually anti-religion and has an aggressive underground tonality to it with treated hand-drums replacing the traditional set and a distorted mix of guitar and keyboards making for a confused psychedelic effect. Thom the World Poet leads us through the muted tango that is "Alpha Harmony". This one could have belonged in Hawkwind's Space Ritual or at least the booklet but the song suffers from a rather scruffy mix involving too many instruments vying for supremity.

It is relieved by Michael Moorcock taking over the menacing vocals for "Every Gun plays its own tune", an intriguing arrangement offset by a strangely out of place Mexican trumpet accompaniment. The 9 minute "Loggers Revenge" gives Brian Tawn another chance with a few short narrative vocals in one of the weirdest pieces on the album. The track has Daevid Allen and Don Falcone to thank for holding the listener's interest as it's a slow burning affair using hand drums and a hypnotic bass motif. Synthesisers and distorted percussion along with various multitracked guitar parts allow exploration beyond its straight line drum and bass riffs. Nonetheless its still a bit of a snoozer.

Sax and flutes initially lend a romantic air to "Augustus" which ebbs and flows beautifully creating images of scenes observed through enveloping and parting mists. The second part changes tone completely however to a heavy riff and a danceable rhythm. Vaguely reminds me of one of the tracks from Andy Mackay's (ex-Roxy Music) first solo album. The dirge like "Future Memories" has lyrics to slit your throat to with its hopelessness take on life but is relieved on the next song by a bright and breezy oboe and a humorous 1920s-style tango rhythm in a variety theatre idiom with seagulls suggesting a Blackpool or Brighton setting.

Space bandit Bridget Wishart gets her song in next, a sated, reflective piece titled "Another World" with a languid guitar and synth atmosphere over a somewhat plodding rhythm. In "The Hawk" Don Falcone returns us to the mainstream of space-rock with some more street poetry delivered through steamy keyboard sounds and a Brock-like guitar. A short and frantically discordant cello and guitar led instrumental is up next before "Ingleborough" which continues the string inclusions of the last 2 songs with a string quartet opening, developing into a strangely warped concoction of acoustic instruments and mysterious vocal from Moorcock. "Upturned dolphin" is the most cryptic bit of prose on the disc, perhaps interpreting one of those bits of art every town now seems to have in the middle of a roundabout, delivered over a wheezing guitar and violin arrangement.

Bridget returns in "Salome", an homage to the legend and a fairly straight bit of monotone space-rock with good use of build and tension its main source of interest. "Montfalcon" takes us back to Vaudeville again with a song you may have expected to hear played on a 78 tailing off into a rather aimless wandering acoustic lament led by guitar and cello. The final, instrumental track features Alan Wall's tasty acoustic guitar picking its way through a maze of warbling synths and fluted mellotron. Quite a hefty package but the variety of ideas and quality of its players makes this a worthwhile addition to any stoner's album collection.

Track Listing
1. Alien Injection
2. New Religion
3. Alpha Harmony
4. Every Gun Plays Its Own Tune
5. Logger's Revenge (Brian Tawn Speaks!)
6. Augustus
7. Future Memories
8. The Entropy Tango
9. Another World
10. The Hawk
11. Imported Serpents
12. Ingleborough
13. Upturned Dolphin
14. Salome
15. Montfallcon
16. Heaven (Is One Quality Tree For The Road)

Added: September 2nd 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Black Widow Records
Hits: 3886
Language: english

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