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Aquanaut - Golden CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars A hidden treasure of space rock from Australia.

Aquanaut are an obscure Australian Psych Space rock band with 2 great psychedelic offerings. This album "Golden", their 2010 and latest release, is an example of the type of sound found on space rock albums from the likes of Hawkwind, or The Ovals, but with sudden time shifting tempos like Cardiacs.

The vocals are often echoing like Dave Brock, and the guitars lock into hypnotic riffs, though not as consistent as Hawkwind riffs. The band prefer to veer into odd guitar sounds and varied time sigs, making them a different beast than the typical Space rock approach.

"Golden" opens with 'Days of Pollen', a raucous guitar approach and the strong vocals of Luc P also on guitars. The keyboards of Damien Salomons are prominent, as are the drums of George Velenik, and bass of Carl Belle. Songs like 'Jaguar Politics' certainly remind me of the manic sounds of The Mars Volta or the frenetic pacing of Cardiacs. It is a solid track that highlights the unusual style of Aquanaut. The lyrics are as odd as space rock gets, such as "Hall ways nightmares, watching stars burst, fourth wind, Hallowed, sun burnt yellow".

The very fast pace of 'Who Got Horsie' is quite astounding for a space rock band. There is a heavy riffing guitar distortion that drives it along. The odd vocal delivery is an original touch, even sounding machine like at one point. There is a time sig change at 3 minutes that breaks up the speed, but the heavy chugging riffs return later and are augmented by spacey keyboards and horse sounds.

'Way of the Wolf' has heavy guitars crunching along with layered lead guitar phrases. The vocals are again strangely delivered with psych lyrics, "In ancient Egypt, oh Haiti Princess, the devil calling the angel falling, the book of fever, break the receiver, a pawn of its mind, it is forsaken, the nervous caller, forever praying." The lead solo sections are terrific, very fast and hypnotic over all the other guitar sounds. It also has a strong time sig change, and I was reminded of the type of music that Cardiacs might come up with on their masterpiece "Sing To God". The keyboards at the end make a fitting closing coda to this excellent song.

'Machine Lives' comes after seamlessly flowing and features some wonderful retro keyboards. The vocals are confident as usual and the guitars ceaselessly chime out spacey textures. For me the synth lines are the best part about this track, reminding me of Gary Numan's style or The Human League. The percussion is all over the place and really boost the feel of the song and I love the spacey effects on the vox at about 2:30. The lyrics are again very strange, "When in doubt first law, harness light beams, circuit break instinct, synchronising."

'Severed Heads' is a steady tempered song with a cool guitar phrase, and some nice wah wah effects as it builds to some spacey textures. The lead solo is smooth and cruises nicely over the jaunty rhythms. Again, this is a song that is well performed and will grow on the listener over time. It transitions with a sonic static sound.

'The Answer' has an effect on the voice and a steady beat. The lyrics are psychedelic and the voice becomes cleaner as he sings, "sidewalk sins and dirt cops, calls me Betty to my face, walks around in a disgrace, technophobe it knows its days, are numbered yes, the gamma haze, martian girls and secret sun, snort the coke from seven tongues." The Australian accent is more noticeable on this song for some reason, reminding me of Midnight Oil's sound or The Angels. There is still a spacey section and lots of synth in the instrumental passage. The low buzzing retro synth is a nice touch and this is one of the shorter tracks.

A drone and prominent synth begins 'This Omniverse', and I admire that Moog sound and chugging guitar rhythm. The vox only come in briefly on the 2 verses, with weird lyrics, "time is a snake, watched it from space", but the rest is really a feast of retro synth and mechanised percussion. I like this one very much especially how it chugs along on those guitars with synth lines taking over powering out a rather odd melody.

Next is 'Skylock (t.i.g.o.f.s.) which stands for "the infinite grace of falling stars". This has a fast guitar rhythm and the chanting title with machine vox, otherwise it's instrumental. It takes off with an effective lead break and some galloping distorted riffs. It is great the way the melody is repeated but gets lower and lower on descending notes until a fast trilling electric guitar phrase and very odd time sig. Interestingly, there are no synth solos on this one, rather it relies on guitars. Eventually it slows down with acoustics and ethereal spacey atmospherics. The ending is classic space prog, with the high pitch echoing guitars and sustained key pads.

'Chameleon' is another instrumental with one chant, "All is said and done, I'm a chameleon." The guitars are aggressive and there are some awesome riffs that lock in. Guitars are the emphasis, especially on the extended lead breaks, but there are some nice spacey nuances and electric piano that augment the sound.

'Think About' closes the album with more unusual lyrics, "Hologram mirror haze, feel so cold empty hall, machine doubt, silver walls." It has a bright uptempo sound, and cool droning synth with spacey swirls. This one is more focussed on synthesizers and has a fast percussion attack over slow verse phrases. It is an effective device and the low buzzing synth provides an ethereal soundscape. The instrumental has a simple chord structure but it is effective over the frenetic rhythms. The lead guitar solo comes in with some nice chord shapes and hammer ons, with soaring string bends. The synth effects to follow are mesmirising, and have that retro Moog sound heard in the 80s. It ends with more spaciness with a swathe of sustained synth grinding.

Overall, "Golden" is a hidden treasure that many still need to discover. The spacey sound is a delight, but the real drawcard for me are the way that the band structure the songs, with sudden tempo shifts and lengthy solos on guitar and keyboards, and none of the songs sound alike. It is a diverse album yet somehow maintains that original sound of Aquanaut. It should appeal to space rock fans, and is yet another of those obscure bands from Australia yet to be discovered.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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