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Farflung - 5 CD (album) cover

5

Farflung

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.81 | 7 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm not sure where the blunt numerical title comes from. By my reckoning this is (maybe) the eighth studio album released by the interstellar acid heads from outer-limits Los Angeles (the uncertainty reflects a rather lackadaisical career path since 1995). No matter: the new one is a doozy, however you count it. The better part of a decade has passed since the last recorded Farflung voyage, and it sounds like guitarist Tommy Grenas spent all that time strip-mining asteroids for heavy metals and toxic hormones.

The links to early HAWKWIND are still audible, and strengthened here by a guest appearance from longtime friend and tour mate NIK TURNER. But Farflung always had a more hardcore agenda, taking Hawkwind's time-tested Sonic Attack and injecting it with a shock dose of illegal steroids. These guys aren't just another gang of stoned-to-excess Space Rockers; they play like a renegade gang of delinquent refugees from another dimension, where the building blocks of life are carbon, electricity, and a surplus of testosterone.

The awesome lockstep riffing of "Hive" sets an immediate challenge to unsuspecting listeners: submit, or perish. But don't expect any relief after surviving that initial onslaught; the balance of the album sustains an alien blitzkrieg of churning chords, cosmic feedback, flanger and echo overkill, and all the extroverted authority of a quintet boasting two loud guitarists, two bass players, a solid 4/4 drummer, and lots of oscillating synthesizers.

It's true the music often resembles over-amped straightforward Hard Rock, only slightly warped by an overdose of deadly radiation. But even the more orthodox air-guitar foot stompers ("Preterozoic"; or the oddly- titled "044MZP") drift into some interesting musical black holes, the latter ending in an ominous, atmospheric coda filled with veiled acoustic guitars and more of Nik Turner's Egyptian flute arabesques.

There's even an unexpected but effective update of the song "Being Boiled"...yes, the old Human League chestnut (from back when the League was actually cool). As elsewhere the heavily-treated vocals are presented in a Chrome-plated, adenoidal sneer: a reference of course to Damon Edge and Helios Creed of the Dada-Punk Sci-Fi duo Chrome, another obvious touchstone for Tommy Grenas and company.

It's reassuring to hear an off-radar band like Farflung playing stronger than ever, after twenty-plus years of furious headbanging. Maybe there's a space-time paradox at work, and the band is aging slower as they travel faster into the void. Or maybe it's just a stubborn refusal to grow up. Some kids never learn, even at middle age, when to let go of their adolescence.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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