I've always considered myself a fan of the "space-rock" genre but I'm beginning to have my doubts whether my love of this music really does extend throughout all of the genre's soundscapes. I'm not overblown by Ozric Tentacles's music and, on this showing, neither am I by Øresund Space Collective's brand of totally improvised instrumental "space-rock". Clearly, I am either not on the right mind-altering substances or not living in the correct parallel universe. It's certainly a million miles from the music that bands like Hawkwind and their more recent pretenders like Litmus put out. Still....
Good Planets Are Hard to Find is the band's fifth album and features new members on drums, percussion, bass and guitar. The band themselves say that "...the music has a more progressive and melodic element and is less spacey than our previous releases." Oh, maybe I do like space-rock after all, it's just that this is not it. Maybe I should try one of their previous releases.
A key feature of this album is the inclusion of a guest musician, KG West, from the band Siena Root, on sitar. His sitar adorns the whole of the opening and closing tracks, "Good Planets Are Hard to Find" and "MTSST". You may remember that I raved about last year's Siena Root's Far From the Sun, which also featured occasional sitar from Mr.West. Unfortunately, whilst the sitar was beautifully integrated into Siena Root's music, it doesn't really gel with Øresund Space Collective's and both tracks meander pretty aimlessly.
Where this music is at its best is in those sections where the guitar is beefier and the band picks up the pace. "Space Fountain" is the pick of the crop, all the better for its relative brevity: if the remainder of the album was on a par with this then I'd be happier. Elsewhere, in the remaining three tracks, there are high points as the intensity picks up and the synthesizer kicks in. Conversely, when the pace drops, there isn't enough melodic interest, despite what the band say, or enough rhythmic interest to hold attention. Of course, by having no vocals you've already made it more difficult for yourself by discounting probably the most emotive and wonderful instrument, and the complete improvisation is probably not helping either: over 19 minutes of "PP746-3" - why? - it's ok occasionally but, overall, the natural reaction is to wish for the next band to come on!
Overall, then, a disappointment; I was expecting more from this album and will have to visit earlier efforts to determine whether Good Planets Are Hard to Find is just a blip or not. In itself, and even allowing for space-rock's mantric nature, its improvisations just do not justify their duration.
1) Good Planets Are Hard to Find (9:43)
2) Space Fountain (8:51)
3) Orbital Elevator (16:12)
4) PP746-3 (19:35)
5) My Heel Has a Beard (6:01)
6) MTSST (19:28)