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First Band From Outer Space - Impressionable Sounds Of The Subsonic CD (album) cover

IMPRESSIONABLE SOUNDS OF THE SUBSONIC

First Band From Outer Space

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.15 | 64 ratings

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Joolz
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The New Kings On The Block?

This, the second release from the enigmatic Swedish space rockers, is a logical development from their debut and a clear improvement. While still persuing the same fundamental mix of old school heavy metal riffing, trance inducing space-rock jams and 'cosmic oscillator' synth noises, Impressionable Sounds Of The Subsonic displays greater use of textures and 'colours' from a wider sound palette, tempering the heaviness by concentrating on stronger arrangements. The impressive result is more assured and adventurous, perhaps hinting of even greater things to come.

Analogue synth bleeps & farts and extended warbly bits continue to pepper the soundscape, but the most significant change comes from the addition of flutes as a major force, courtesy of new space cadet MoonBeamJosué [appeared on one track of the debut], an accomplished musician whose style varies from classically light and smooth to aggressively earthy [á la Ian Anderson] as appropriate to context, providing a cosmic 'missing link' needed to propel the band into space-rock warp speed.

Also added this time around are some unobtrusive haunting female backing harmonies, very effectively set back in the mix. Lead singer JohanFromSpace makes extensive use of multi-tracking to produce a thicker vocal in a very muscular style well suited to the band's repertoire, lighter and more 'musical' than his earlier James Hetfield phase. Another key element is an unusual use of guitars whereby bass and lead contribute equally and interchangeably to the band's dense wall of sound.

It's nearly all good, so highlights are hard to single out, but my favourites are also the two longest. Title track Impressionable Sounds Of The Subsonic seemlessly progresses through several phases, from brilliant lilting mid-paced electro-acoustic song awash with gorgeous flute, then into a heavier phase led by organ and flute, building all the time until lifting off for the stars in an ecstatic space-jam, yet ending in whale-talk and ambient discord. Gröna Händer, is 13 heavenly minutes of heavy riffing, techno beats and a lengthy full-on sweaty head-banging turn-up-the-volume mind-warping Brocktastic goose-pimply space-jam-thrash as good as anything the mighty Hawkman ever did!

Faults? My only observations would be that packaging is minimal and uninformative [their website doesn't help much!], and at 68 minutes the album is too long, with the final two tracks failing to reach the standards set earlier - had they been culled, the album would have been an ideal length and ended on a big high.

Comparisons with classic Hawkwind are inevitable as First Band From Outer Space occupy a similar position in the space-rock cannon. But while Brock's babies have grown up, these guys have gone back to basics, back to the heady days of the Space Ritual and developed their own 21st century brand from its essential elements. It is an exciting and winning formula.

The spirit of Hawkwind lives on! Welcome to the future .....

Joolz | 4/5 |

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