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Aquanaut - The Psychonaut CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Psychedelic prog with a ton of space rock influences.

Aquanaut's album "The Psychonaut" features psychedelic space rock with an alternative sound, like Hawkwind meets The Mars Volta. The time sigs are at times odd and it is tinged with very confident vocals sounding like Dave Brock at times with an Aussie accent.

The guitars ring out loud and powerful throughout and the percussion is off sync at times but never ineffective. It begins with a crow squawking and then the loud crunching guitars of Luc P, along with the bass of Damien Salomons, percussion by Sanker Das, and guitar and keyboards of Justin Min. Warwick Fowler also is on keys on this album but the line up would change on the next album the following year with only Luc and Damien remaining on board the starship Aquanaut. The guitars are heavy and have a spacey edge on songs like 'All the Outmoded process (of life)' that opens this release with a powerful blast.

Following this is a sonic outburst with ascending chords on 'It's a Dragon, Fool!' At times the lyrics refer to other prog songs such as, "We are the toxic rain filled death, Locomotive warping breath, bring the hell we choose to dwell, on this plane we do allow." You can see some influences in these moments, for those who know prog.

The next song is almost a more commercial song but still has some odd time sigs, 'The Bell Tolls For Thee'. The vocals are easy to understand and well performed, and the guitars take up a dominant place on the pedestal rather than the keys and synth sounds that would permeate the following album "Golden".

'DMF' has some sharp bursts of guitar riffing, and unusual vocal style. I like the way it locks into a cool riff at 2:50, with some nice harmonies on vox and a hypno lead guitar riff. The lengthy lead break with wah-wah is effective, with a spacey sound over an ominous chord structure. The song ends on a new time sig and overall this is a definitive highlight on the album.

'Ocean' is next with some weird lyrics and a compelling melody, "beating the clocks, fears the eyes, my sound is glock, my sound is game, lion and I, fears precise, melting the fluid, piercing the sky." The twin guitar lead intro is a nice touch over some cosmic keyboard atmospheres. It locks into a broken time sig in 6/8, and then a wonderful spacey lead guitar takes over. This one vocally sounds more like Hawkwind, and even has a similar steady rhythm as those space rock legends. The way the time sig keeps fracturing is a nice touch, keeping the listener on the edge, and it features a dynamic interplay of keys and guitars.

Next we have a machine sound and an alarm blaring to open the very odd 'Spatial Extremes'. Again the sig is fractured and vocals are loud and layered like Hawkwind; even the accent sounds like Dave Brock here. I was quite taken back as to how similar the sound is to Hawkwind. The lead guitar solo is heard over an incessant melody and some spacey effects on keyboards. This is one of the band's spaciest offerings, no doubt, especially with those cosmic swirls and squelches. It even has an alien like spoken voice, "space, a vacuum void of infinite destiny". The ending is off the planet sonics and atmospheric effects like a trip into space, with static and synth nuances.

Next is 'Paint The Hippy Canvas Black' with some sweet guitars in the intro, a fuzz guitar battling with a clean echoing guitar sound. The two guitars are joined by frenetic percussion and spacey wah-wah eventually as well as interstellar space effects on keyboards. The lyrics are delivered again with a Brockian feel, "Sky drowns the circles that mind cannot paralyse, this moment dance in the halls of the serpentime." Eventually the fast lead guitar trills take over in the instrumental break.

'Serpentime' closes the album, continuing the weird theme, and the lyrics speak of a "skin walker, night stalker, soul reaper, death beater." The effects on this are rather creepy this time, especially the odd intro with chilling voices, and then a pleasant organ shimmers with some wah wah guitar work. The tempo builds to a fast pace in the verses with some narrated voice effects. The keyboard solo augments the overall atmosphere but I love that lead break that crashes through at about 5 minutes in. It is a fantastic way of closing the album and one of the highlights. The track moves into acoustic picking and ethereal voices, until the original sound returns on the last verse. At 8 minutes in length it is one of Aquanaut's longest songs and features many time sig changes, even ending on a slowed down variation of the main melody that now sounds similar to the 'Black Sabbath' riff, and some vocal intonations over squealing keys and guitars.

Overall, "The Psychonaut" is another hidden treasure from these Australian space rockers, well worth seeking out. The guitar work is as good as I have heard for space rock and the vocals are well delivered throughout. The keyboards are wonderful, though I prefer the more retro sound of the followup "Golden". In any case this is another innovative album from Aquanaut, highly recommended for those who love space psych prog.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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