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Alien Planetscapes - Life On Earth CD (album) cover

LIFE ON EARTH

Alien Planetscapes

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.26 | 6 ratings

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Rivertree
Special Collaborator
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Oh man, this album bears a challenge! Unfortunately Doug Walker is not with us anymore, because he died of a heart attack in 2006. His project ALIEN PLANETSCAPES is known for mixing avantgarde jazz and space rock to something very unique and infinite. Based on his early interest in using an experimental instrumentation, to name synthesizer and other electronics in general, he evolved to a protagonist in the end. So his music subsequently should influence a lot of bands, even not exclusively coming from the space rock department.

Just to point out this ... US boy Scott Heller has been a friend for nearly 15 years until he eventually changed to Europe and founded the highly acclaimed band Oresund Space Collective. Furthermore he's holding up Doug's legacy, collects info and music material and runs a website in memory of him. With deep respect I'm going to take a share now while writing this review. Concerning recording sessions Doug Walker seemingly never intented to be commercially successful, 98% of his music can be found on uncounted self-released cassettes and CD-Rs. Nobody should ever claim to have a complete list - this may be negated in a nutshell.

What I know, 'Life On Earth' is his sole official album, a 1997 snapshot which holds more accessible stuff and could be easily taken for a best-of collection. The band is in excellent mood here, great interaction, while I'm quite sure, this recordings are not reworked, polished or whatsoever. So what can I say about the particular instruments? Chris Altenhoff's bass is hypnotic in general, not boring though, he provides haunting repetitive lines. Blaise Slwula contrasts with his free styled quirky saxophone all over. Rob Alfonso is not present on every song with his guitar, but when he's on the table it's an irresistible mix of space and fusion. Synths and other electronical effects are often dominant, especially because every musician has a share here. And finally Matthew Block's drum appearance is just worthy alone, yeah, very playful.

Having said that ... this album definitely needed several rounds (months) for me to capture the brilliance. And finally it gets clearer that this often enough flirts with Soft Machine - obvious when coming to the excellent jam Soft Martian ... or you can also say with Daevid Allen's Gong comprising Theo Travis ... or even Embryo collaborating with Charlie Mariano. Well, of course Blaise Slwula gets the praise here. The fundament is a groovy fusion improvisation. Decorated with spacey synths this is really fantastic!

The intensive Chris In Space is delivered with an extraordinary suspense. You're eagerly waiting for the breakdown all the way through ... but this won't come! Therefore a strong performance indeed. Gravel is provided with a long spacey intro including an other-worldly flute. Then the guitar, as mentioned before stylistically outfitted with a blend of space and fusion, joins somewhere in between, great contribution by Rob Alfonso. All in all the songs hold a lush sound, a striking dramaturgy. Although presented with a hypnotic atmosphere always unpredictable.

Birds of St. Albans is something special - probably a very personal Doug Walker outcome, because completely electronically made. No, wait, do I hear a fainthearted saxophone? Spaced out in general ... and given with industrial kraut flirts. However not my cup of tea really ... or it's simply 'access denied' for the moment? Never mind, 'Life On Earth' is a brilliant achievement, which needs time to get in though - 4 stars, but tending to a higher weighting (the more I listen!).

Rivertree | 4/5 |

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