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B1. Journey Into Satchidananda (15:16)
Earthling Society are a
Kosmische quartet that in the main hail from of of the most un-Kosmische
areas of North West England, Fleetwood. A town so bleak you
literally can't drive through it; sticking out of the British Isles
like a crippled dick into the the murkiest part of the Irish sea.
Here, Earthling Society built their lo-fi studio in an old deserted
glass factory and since 2004 have recorded a number of albums under
the influence of mushrooms, cheap speed and cheaper beer - hoping
for a few minutes to transport themselves from the reality of where
they really live. Along they way they have hitched rides with Julian
Cope, Hawkwind, Damo Suzuki, Guru Guru and Blue Cheer.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR THE TITLE TRACK BELOW
These days the underground is awash with bands who hark back to the plethora of obscure, druggy psychedelic bands of the 70s. These bands are often united by a tendency to pass a combination of motorik beats and echo-and-fuzz drenched guitar off as works of daring ambition. It all functions well as head music, but can anyone really get excited by it? This tendency is at best lazy, at its worst strangely reactionary in its unimaginative aping of the radical sounds of the past.
Although Earthling Society occupy this scene in a superficial, stylistic sense, they definitely bring something new to the table. A good indication of this might be the cover art, which is spectacularly lacking in taste and might lead you to expect some kind of psychogeographical folk-metal rather than the brain-bludgeoning space rock encased within, and a welcome change from the washed-out visuals employed by most contemporary psych acts.
Essentially the music is heavy space rock played with a Commune sensibility; by which I mean the no-holds-barred, egalitarian approach engendered by bands such as Amon Duul II and Ash Ra Temple in Krautrock's golden age and carried into the 21st century by the likes of Hills and Goat. Despite this, there's a fearlessness here; an audacity that allows Earthling Society to stretch beyond the limitations usually imposed by rooting a bands style in a vintage aesthetic. Their sound may have a base in the churning repetitions and endless, everyone-soloing at-once improvisations of seventies freak-rock collectives but they also move into jazz, ambient, noise and stark neofolk in ways that are both convincing and delightfully unexpected.
Opener 'Aiwass' opens with all the relevant signifiers; tambura drones, hand percussion, electronic oscillations and phased-out cod-raga guitar phrases. However anyone expecting a bucolic psych-out in the pharaoh's garden will be in for a surprise; shit gets real at around the three minute mark as the drums set up a pounding rhythm of tribal tom rolls, the guitar sets up an insistent dirge-riff and the electronics coalesce into an overpowering miasma of synth-squall. Everything's given pretty much equal weighting in the mix, amounting to a murky psychedelic mush.
Although when Earthling Society are in the midst of a wig-out it's all pretty rollicking and enjoyable, it's often how the band chooses to bookend these jams when the arrangements are at their most intriguing. 'Tortuga' opens with gentle phased guitar and an immersive synth wash that seems to inhabit the sonic boundary between kosmische and New Age music, whilst ending with a creepy synth preset/fairground ride loop that puts an unsettling finish on the piece. Equally interesting is the ending of 'Aiwass', which consists of two minutes of effect pedal-saturated, stereo-panned atonal guitar-mangling and brings to mind both the kamikaze fuzz assaults of Mainliner's Mellow Out and the narcotic noise-splurges of Skullflower. The cover of 'Journey In Satchidananda' sees a coda of twinkling chimes, rudimentary synth bleeps and tremolo-picked oud. Or is it a mandolin impersonating an oud? Whatever the answer, it's clear that on England Have My Bones, this band are just as concerned with creating surprising textural backdrops as monolithic rock-outs.
Arguably the albums centerpiece, I approached Earthling Society's interpretation of Alice Coltrane's work with some trepidation. How could a heavy psych-rock band from Lancashire put any kind of useful spin on a seemingly untouchable classic of spiritual jazz? It seems however that Earthling Society's kosmische credentials are readily transferable and the whole thing works surprisingly well, with the rapturous and virtuosic spirituality of the original inverted into a strutting display of space rock. Cecil McBee's agile but anchoring bass riff is reborn as a chorus-enhanced depth charge, whilst the Society's guitarist Fred Laird condenses the most memorable parts of Pharaoh Sanders' fluttering sax improvs into starsailing heavy metal leads, adding his own bluesy flourishes and atonal effects. At points the listener is allowed a few moments of respite, but the band always comes back with an ever-thickening haze of electronic noise and guitar fuzz, all propelled onwards by the monotonous-yet-momentous rhythm section. Around the ten minute mark the band dispenses with all pretenses of jazzy improvisation and sets all controls to "intensify", and at this point the piece begins to sound like 'The Great Gig In The Sky' as played by My Bloody Valentine during their 'Holocaust' section. This is a good thing. The pudding's been thoroughly over-egged, and by Thor is it righteous.
The closing title track is perhaps the album's strangest. Opening with a salvo of keyboard noodling that brings to mind those videos of Sun Ra playing keyboards behind his back, the track segues sharply into a mournful neofolk outro of acoustic guitar and skronky overblown flute, before reaching a denouement of dark, ambient drones. After the surprises of this album, it seems fitting that Earthling Society choose to end their album with a track furthest away from their core sound and aesthetic; heavy psych reaches its only conclusion, space rock comes full circle and delves down into the cold, dark earth.
This is full hippy in every good way. Hyperdrive hippy. Hippy in excelsis (not in Excel). Godz-driven, primal, ballistic-psychedelic, balls-to-the-wall, throttled/throttling. It’s the hippyish, proggy album that other people think they’ve made. There’s a massive meandering Alice Coltrane cover on here that sounds like it could be/should be terrible but works brilliantly. There’s devastating stoner stuff, a beautifully placed and ever-building soundworld which swirls and ebbs and pushes into you. There’s awkward movements in just the right places. This attempts to blow you away and achieves it in a way that most albums couldn’t even dream.
“a beautifully placed and ever-building soundworld which swirls and ebbs”
I’d never heard anything from Earthling Society before and assumed this was going to be one of the those half-heard, half-liked albums that occasionally squeezed its way out of shuffle and caught me unawares in the middle of a walking binge, but this little fellah (this MONSTER) grabbed me at first listen. It has beautiful teeth. It’s hard to describe how this works so well: there’s elements of the heavy psych of Gnod et al but feels tighter, less inclined to shambles; there’s elements of the better bits of Pink Floyd (circa Syd but without him, if you see what I mean); there’s the occasional whiff of something far out and jazzy (maybe something from Canterbury, via Miles Davis) but it’s a little greater than those parts and I wouldn’t want it to be unfairly damned. It’s a LOT greater than the gunk and guff that normally associates itself with those kind of bands.
“the music is essentially wrestling with other, potentially malevolent, forces”
I guess THAT is what I really love about this album; it’s unafraid to go full hippy and yet keeps itself from all the usual trip/Trip ups and doesn’t stop reminding itself that psychedelia isn’t about the musicality per se but the acceptance that the music is essentially wrestling with other, potentially malevolent, forces, sprung direct from the dark heart of nature, of the wood, of the Wud. This will make you snuffle for ‘shrooms again, just to test it out. Maybe those prescription painkillers are not quite out of date after all. You’ll want to test this out, want to set it in opposition to your drugged self, want to try it up against the big boys. Find an LSD mule (okay, they are donkeys down here in the West) and some time (I have none to give you) and get things going. Let me know how you get on. I think I know, because listened to straight, in the warm light of a beautiful morning, I get the feeling that this music would wrestle with anything I could throw at it.
Fleetwood may not be known for it's rock and roll heritage apart from forming one half of a uber famous rock band but little did we know that bubbling under the surface was a vibrant underground scene and one of the fruits of that are Earthling Society.
Having garnered acclaim from none other than out there psychonaut Julian Cope, Earthing Society have been ploughing away through numerous line up changes searching for that perfect sound. Casting their lot into a heavy psych/jazz crowd, England Have My Bones is the new release from the band and sets it's stall out as a sprawling meisterwork that aims to reach parts other albums don't reach.
So far, so psych and what you do get is one hell of a dense psychedelic work
that takes repeated listens to truly appreciate the full effect of what Earthling Society are trying to do. It's not perfect and it does meander in parts but when it hits that psych bone, oh my you better watch out.
Consisting of four songs, 'Aiwass' is the first and throughout its eleven minutes serves as a swirling, dense, psychedelic introduction to the album. Almost impenetrable in parts, it creates a vortex of sound which builds...and builds...and builds. Typically psych and space rock, the clarity of the musicianship is excellent and keeps things interesting.
'Tortuga' takes things down a pace and is the only song here with vocals on it. It's probably the most accessible too and the submerged lyrics help drive the song to its conclusion. It's a slight psych masterpiece which can sit along bands such as Lucid Dream and The Oscillation for it's take on a sub-Spiritualized level.
Brilliant as this is, nothing quite prepares you for the cover of Alice Coltrane's 'Journey Into Satchidananda' which out grows its jazz roots and take on a full on space rock experience. Firmly rooted in the bass and drum section which at times threatens to turn tribal, it's yet another dense piece and turns the original on it's head. It's a weird situation where free form jazz gets grounded in basic instrumentation but sounds even more out there.
It all rests on the title track to see us out and after all the extreme psych it's time for a come down tune and this does the trick with it's slight guitar leading us slowly back down to earth. It may sound a bot trite but it does work and it's only after the album finishes that you start thinking about what you have actually just listened to. It's the equivalent of a breather after an intense trip.
England Have My Bones is an intense piece of work and can stand tall amongst the current psych scene for trying something different. It's intense and very dense but give it time and it reveals myriad possibilities in the music. There is a strong jazz ethic throughout which leads to some rather interesting excursions and it is this that should set them apart from other deep psych acts.
ECHOES AND DUST
If the cover of Earthling Society’s newest and the title are any indications, England Have My Bones must be a paean from these self-described psychedelic pagans for their base in Fleetwood, ‘a town so bleak you literally can’t drive through it.’ I haven’t been, so I’ll take their label Riot Season’s word for it. One thing I do know is that it’s obviously not bereft of life. Earthling Society have produced a string of albums from their own studio in an abandoned glass factory that prove that something is very much alive in North West England. Aiwass, the lead in cut, makes that abundantly clear. It’s not what you would call life-affirming, especially when some strangulated vocal pleas kick in, but whoever the denizen is is looking for escape. And that’s exactly what Earthling Society has provided through their catalog. As Aiwass slowly simmers to a boil it feels like a cauldron in the corner of that factory that’s teeming with life. Their tribalistic and ritualistic underpinnings aren’t in short supply either as Aiwass builds to overflowing, providing a fire for the ghosts of the forsaken plant to cavort around. It’s prime Earthling Society; at once concerned with sparking space and psych rock expenditure and propelled by a focus that can often be overlooked by their borderline fractured character.
As they do more often than not, Earthling Society can turn around and invert that relationship as they do on Tortuga, a dreamy trip through their hinterland that’s every bit as true to their character and mission as the cuts that push them to the fringes of their universe. Fred Laird’s distinct vocals take a bigger role here, giving more form to the hinted being/s from Aiwass without giving it all away. The ensuing circular escalation comes to a close with an odd-ball calliope-esque coda that, if you know anything about Earthling Society, more than likely hints at madness rather than a sense of humor, a brief embrace of the carousel spinning off-center. The intended centerpiece must be the freaked and buzzed-out cover of Alice Coltrane’s Journey Into Satchidananda. It’s exactly the kind of warped, extended workout that not only makes Earthling Society devotees fill their diaper, but the band themselves from the palpable grit-frenzied juice they pour into it. Not that Earthling Society can’t excel in the short-form—check their Brotherhood of the Cod for plenty of evidence—but the lengthy calisthenics of Journey Into Satchidananda is where they both burn and shine. They don’t give up the ghosts, or bury the bones, without burying the hatchet first on the closing title track.
The briefest cut here, England Have My Bones, pours out like angry molten squall before abruptly handing over the reigns to, it has to be said, a bare-bones ride out that carries as much of their ethos as the outings with far more meat on them. England Have My Bones has the ingredients of a fringe-dwelling progressive psych and space opus, but more importantly it has all the markings, and proof, of one of Earthling Society’s best albums that makes them stand out from our general population down here. Every bit as much as their inspiring town that goes about ‘sticking out of the British Isles like a crippled dick into the murkiest part of the Irish sea.’ Granted, it sounds a hell of a lot better.
SUNRISE OCEAN BENDER
First of three albums featured in this missive which in terms of mid season polling are all proving strong contenders for the top spot in our end of year voting. Surely in need of no introductions in these pages Earthling Society have in recent years acquitted themselves as one of the nations finest purveyors of progressive psych whose musicality, vision and originality is perhaps only matched by those other bonged out beatniks Cranium Pie. Via the adored and highly thought of Riot Season imprint comes ‘England have my bones’ – an opus so out there and lost in its own moment that it should by rights elevate Earthling Society to psych’s topper-most table and with it set the bar level to which all progressive psyche releases coming in its wake should be measured several notches upwards. An absolute freak storm, if these dudes where Japanese then religious cults would be sprouting the record buying globe over. In short ’England have my bones’ is the most out there off your face experience you can have without resorting to chemical stimulants, a freakishly terra-forming and mind warping odyssey that trips out voyaging far beyond the audiac astral plateaus ventured by heavyweights the likes of Gnod, Floorian and primordial undermind. Its where vision, creativity and craft converge sublimely into a seamlessly fluid forked tongue pressed upon a palette vibrant in colour that sumptuously airbrushes the lines between psych, prog, wyrd folk and pop.
The eleven minute colossus ‘Aiwass’ opens the set, a shape shifting snake dancing mirage of drone mysticism that literally morphs amid the deeply hypnotic trim of eastern accents and fuzzed our vapour trails to mushrooms and assume mass, definition and depth which for all its woozy and fried felicitations might well in the final analysis prove to be the Earthling ones most pop moment given that by scratching away at its pyrotechnical riffola and its shroom enhanced kookiness the blighter might be favourably seen in some quarters as a psychedelic head trip between the Paris Angels, Wonky Alice and World of Twist. Somewhere else lurks the seductive baroque dream weave that is ’Tortuga’ spiriting its way through your defences like some heaven sent sonic herald crafted from the parts of the chocolate watch band and ghost. ’England has my bones’ – the shortest thing here – is a head scrambling exercise in slowly returning back to normality following some mystical visit to magic mushroom land, after a frenzied freeform bout of Henry Cow-esque art jazz noodling much like the type of stuff bent out of shape by that frazzled dude Andy Pyne and kicked out with much welcome regularity on his foolproof project imprint, it then stops, goes silent and picks up the baton in the kind of hazy and ghost like woozy dreamland that admirers of the mighty Grails may well warm to. All said nothing quite prepares for their mind fracturing cover of Alice Coltrane’s ’journey into Satchidananda’ – a 15 minute trip to bonged out land – this is the place where your mind just disconnects from any notion of reality, absolutely gone, totally off radar and a truly zonked out and stoned beauty which aside touching base with blue cheer, acid mothers, the much missed green milk from the planet orange and more importantly the criminally underappreciated Walking Seeds is liable to melt turntables as well as minds, be warned some listening disciples might not make it back to base in one piece.
THE SUNDAY EXPERIENCE
A band from Fleetwood featuring Mick Fleetwood on drums – interesting.
Earthling Society make brilliant space music, by which I don’t mean they sound like Hawkwind, but that the music is characterized by lots of circular drum patterns and synthesized whooshing noises and some of the songs go on for fifteen minutes. In short, the music which Mick Fleetwood’s new outfit make is excellent and pleasantly reminiscent of The Cosmic Dead in all their fuzzed-out glory.
Occasional spectral vocals do little to temper the otherworldly atmosphere, bringing to mind that piece in Ulysses 31 where the computer says in that terrifying voice, “Ulysses, the way back to earth has been wiped from my memory banks.”
All in all I was suspecting far less from Mick Fleetwood, as I’m not a big fan of the blues-rock inspired AOR gubbins he made throughout the 1970s and 80s, but well done to him for moving back to his hometown, reuniting with his old pals and composing these spiraling hymns to the intergalactic traveller in all of us. Recommended unreservedly.
How’s about some roaring pagan magick-music to wet your summertime whistle? Earthling Society’s long-delayed platter of lysergic love-cookies (four of them) comes dusted with the musical equivalent of popping candy. Of course, like all good med-heads, they’re into the classic Teutonic grooves of Can and Harmonia, the bone-dry racket of Texans the 13th Floor Elevators (and no doubt Golden Dawn), and the propulsive bluster of our very own Hawkwind. It’s a combination peddled to varying degrees of success by folks as diverse as The Black Angels to The Arch Drude, Wooden Shjips and The Cult Of Dom Keller to Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dead Meadow. It’s a potent strain of the herb we call ‘rock and roll’.
The tunes themselves, as you’d likely expect, are monolithic sonic collages of caterwauling feedback and hissing, sibilant locked-in grooves. Earthling Society’s particular blend leans more towards the galactic gallivanting of space rock messiahs Hawkwind and Gong – second track Tortuga, in particular, seems like it has been seeping into your consciousness for aeons, a kind of sensory recollection of a time you never knew you knew. The restrained, hypnotic rhythm lays a deep and tantric groove down for the hushed vocal and spiralling guitar line to flow out of. It’s a thoroughly enthralling number that, at around the six-minute mark, seemingly implodes in a cloud of searing feedback that envelopes both the track and the listener. It’s the ubiquitous ‘eureka’ moment that seals the deal on an exploratory tune like this – it doesn’t necessarily need an explosion of fuzz, but it certainly helps you wig out to the fullest.
Crowley nuts like yours truly know all about Aiwass – the track so named is so engaging that it becomes completely immersive. The track offers a complete cranial re-fit, offering as it does a bombardment of subliminal and overt ‘CHILL OUT’ messages that pop up in your mind like soothing breezes on a burning summer’s day. It’s that potent. Even the squalling feedback guitar solo screeches never become too intrusive, rather they display the light and shade your brain is already feeling anyhow.
The main attraction is the Alice Coltrane homage/cover/reimagining/reboot Journey Into Satchidananda. Alice Coltrane, if you’re that way inclined, can soundtrack some of the most revelatory moments of your sonic life. Personally, I find her music, particular the album from which this track takes its name (or vice versa, you catch my drift?), is one of the most listenable, accessible experimental jazz releases available. It’s an influence on everyone from these dudes to Sunn O))), Wolf Eyes to Paul Weller (!)… check it out. But first, check out Earthling Society’s masterful, spectral envisioning of Alice’s magnum opus. It’s both subtle and full-on, spaced-out and locked-in. It’s the perfect dichotomy with which to listen to music like this for the first time. Highly recommended. The album closes – too soon, I might add – with the title track, England Have My Bones. It opens with a hyperactive, manic guitar screech and closes with an icy-cold (literally ‘chilled’) vibe that conjures images of DEEP space. Far out amongst the unknown kinda thing.
This is a superb record for fans of ‘the genre’ and relaxing, soft drugs and inner peace. I absolutely loved it – and if, like me, you’re a fan of the bands I mentioned in way back up the top there, there’s plenty for you to enjoy here. Particularly check out the Alice cover, it’s a fantastic achievement in honouring an icon’s legacy without detracting from the unique vibe of the innovative original composition.
THE SLEEPING SHAMAN
Earthling Society celebrates their tenth anniversary with yet another winner,England Have My Bones, available in LP, cassette and download editions on the Riot Season label.
The album opens with Aiwass, which begins as an Eastern influenced, mind-bendingly grooving stroll through the Space-Psych bazaars of the ancients, with slowly weaving drones, sitar-ish strings and ethnic percussion. The music jams quietly yet intensely for a few minutes before exploding into a Psychedelically volcanic burst of densely rocking waves that pour into the listener like a sonic hurricane, and ending with a 2 minute acid guitar freakout. Tortuga follows and is a steady paced but thunderous rocking Psychedelic groove tune that is just as acid drenched as it is gently melodic. There’s a lot happening on this song, with swirling acidic waves, tenderly rolling drones, lots of freaky effects, vocals, and a whimsical carnival-esque finale.
Earthling Society reveal more of their influences with a killer cover of Alice Coltrane’s Journey In Satchindananda, a marvel of Psychedelic infused Jazz when it was released in 1970. The band open their homage with the same sitar-like drone as the original, but this is quickly overcome by some seriously mind-fucked acid guitar. The band maintains the same slow melodic riff, pace and jazzy feel as Coltrane, but take it into heavy Psychedelic Space Rock territory. The bass and drums continually recall the original, but the guitar and alien effects are busting out in space, stretching Coltrane’s 7 minutes into a monstrous 15 minutes of cosmically acidic, high intensity ROCK. This is my idea of lovingly and creatively reinterpreting someone’s music. Finally, the title track starts off as a keyboard and machine shop freakout that’s like Sun Ra gone Industrial, before quite startlingly shifting to a sedately drifting bit of ethereal acoustic and sound experimental Psych.
What keeps Earthling Society consistently exciting is their ability to do something different from one release to the next while still sounding like Earthling Society, as well as the inspiration they draw from the pioneering German Krautrock bands, 60s Psychedelia, Jazz, the blanga of Hawkwind, and more, without ever sounding retro and, yes, still sounding like Earthling Society. These guys are keeping Space Rock interesting, stimulating and fresh.
“Good old Riot Season…”, to paraphrase an old Yellow Pagestelevision advert. “They’re not just there for the bad things in life”. They are there, though, as a relatively frequent, always reliable source of all things noisy, heavy and ‘out there’, with a previous release list that includes names like Hey Colossus, Shit And Shine, Aufgehoben and Acid Mothers Temple.
England Have My Bones is a new release from the label, and so I bought it very recently. Earthling Society was a new name to me before Riot Season began mentioning this record being in the works some time ago and, based on the record, yet another band to add to my “I’d better get to owning their other releases” list. From Fleetwood in Lancashire, they can be quite neatly summed up by a list of the acts they’ve supported in the past: Julian Cope, Damo Suzuki, White Hills, Hawkwind, Groundhogs and Blue Cheer. That’s not to encircle them with nothing more than a list of influences; on the basis of England Have My Bones they’re rather more than that. It’s a spiritually heavy-sounding album, but it’s not packed full of riffs and volume. Those things are there, but they’re packaged in a contemplative, psychedelic way that’s takes a heavy blues guitar sound in Eastern, hallucinogenic directions. The four tracks include a heavier, guitar-ier version of Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey Into Satchidananda’.
The artwork initially wrong-footed me into thinking that this would be a more typical sludge-rock/doom kind of record: the gothic script and black, ominous imagery wouldn’t be out of place if it were wrapped around such a release. It’s clever stuff, though; the image has a Northern English feel – grubby power station towers belching out smoke, and pylons silhouetted against grey skies. Its reflection both horizontally and vertically not only provides a convenient black strip for the band and album name, but also notches up the sense of mystery in the image. The rear of the sleeve is a lighter, ‘English pastoral’ scene, depicting a field and a tree – although they are drenched in thick fog. It also shows a sheela na gig-esque folk image above the track names, suggesting perhaps a connection with some arcane folk beliefs. The sleeve design is by Andrew Smith, who runs Riot Season. The package also included an A3 poster promoting the record (the sort you’d see up in a record shop), along with a few flyers for upcoming gigs featuring Riot Season acts.
VINYL DESTINATION BLOG
And so Earthling Society, a criminally ignored bunch of freaks stuck out on the edge of a murky foul-smelling estuary way up North send me their latest offering to the indifferent gods of not-so-popular taste. Lauded by Julian Cope many moons ago Earthling Society have come on in leaps and bounds since their scratchy beginnings where ‘shroom-soaked trips way out into the cosmos were sometimes undermined, although some would say enhanced by poor production. That was certainly not a problem with last year’s ZodiaK album, on 4Zero, and now Riot Season Records have ensured that high production values have been maintained.
England Have My Bones is the second of a loosely linked trilogy of albums from the long-running band. The first album of this mighty triptych was last year’s ZodiaK, a thoroughly stupendous Detroit-fuelled racket that got my rock’n’roll bones a-stirring, I can tell ye! England… takes its inspiration from leader Fred Laird’s other obsession Deutschrock and takes us down the Autobahn in the company of Guru Guru, Ash Ra Tempel, et al, watched over by a freerock spirit that Mr Cope recognised all those years ago.
We set out to sail on the seas of Amboss, Aiwass summoning the tribes to a gathering on the shoreline so that they may venture forth to new lands. Aiwass is a shining righteous mass of Ür Rock drawing the faithful to its core, ending in a swirling cacophony of synapse altering acid fried guitar. And then, Tortuga, with its near-indecipherable echoed vox and swirling psychedelia will hit a spot with fans of The Verve before they dropped the indefinite article, with an added hint of Terry Bickers’ marvellous pop-freakshow Levitation.
Connected by molecule-thin but unimaginably strong tentacles of dark matter reaching back through time to Alice Coltrane’s sublime original is the band’s cover of Journey In Satchidananda. To the Indian drone backing of a tambura the cosmic to and fro between Alice’s harp and Pharoah Sanders’ saxophone in this dedication to Miss Coltrane’s yoga teacher is reflected on the other side of the temporal shift by Neil Whitehead’s electronica box of magick, leading to Fred’s guitar imaginings sparring with looped effects and ethereal aural ephemera that glid forever, all the while anchored by that familiar 16-ton bass line. Stretched like a rubber band between parallel universes, this track lasts far too long, but not nearly long enough. Not only that, but it was laid down live, too! Fabulous stuff indeed!
The concluding title track had the working title Nagasaki Shadow, and you can see why from the scorched earth drone-noise introduction which is akin to something Kawabata Makoto might have had a nightmare about. The piece eventually calms to a wistful industrial melancholy as it floats off down the Manchester ship canal amidst the detritus.
We await the final instalment of this unholy Trinity of expanded consciousness with anticipation and a fluttering heart.
THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT
Over the past ten years I have watched the gradual evolution of the band that is Earthling society, the band at the current time consisting of Fred Laird - vocals and guitar, Jon Blacow - percussion, Kim Allen - Bass and Neil Whitehead - electronics. Their music has evolved and grown during this time and this trend is continued with this album, which is sadly, at the present time, planned to be their last.
The release will be on vinyl, of a tasty translucent green variety, or download; no CDs for this particular album. The cover artwork is deliciously dark and sombre.
The first of the four tracks on this album is 'Aiwass' running for a full eleven minutes starting out with gentle tanpura drones and percussion, to which is gradually added some superbly eloquent bass playing and electronic noodling. At about a quarter way through the percussion becomes heavier and some seriously fuzzed guitar eases into the mix, the track continues to build as the (very appropriately given the title) hushed and distorted vocals come into play merging into the instruments. The music culminates with some masterful screaming feedback saturated guitar. This is a truly epic track of acid drenched, psyched out, space rock magick; the next track 'Tortuga' eases the mood down a level, giving a perfect opportunity for Fred Lairds sublime vocals to come to the fore; the next track 'Journey Into Satchidananda' is of particular interest being a live cover of Alice Coltrane's jazz classic. The music on this track can feel raw and wild and yet throughout the quality of musicianship is impeccable, reigning it in and giving it a direction that works to perfection in so many ways; the final track, 'England have my bones' starts out feral and dangerous before suddenly plunging into a mellow contemplative sound that rounds off the album perfectly.
This is a truly excellent album with massive depth, that in parts can have a gentle easy going sound and in others be demanding, possibly for some listeners bordering on the impenetrable. Whilst I was immediately drawn in by the familiar Earthling society sound it took a number of listens before I could truly say I was getting the music, and still after many plays find new elements with each listen.
This is going to appeal to any lover of freaked out Kraut rock and psychedelic space rock who likes depth to their music and is prepared to give it the attention it so rightly deserves. (Steve Judd)
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