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Hidria Spacefolk - Astronautica CD (album) cover


Hidria Spacefolk

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars After buying this album solely for its cover, I was delighted to find the music contained therein matched the artwork quite nicely. A trip in itself, "Astronautica" is an instrumental album lush with spacious sounds that drip with satisfyingly psychedelic musings. While this is no great masterpiece of progressive rock, I would not hesitate in declaring it an excellent addition to my collection due chiefly to the likeness of the music in regards to the very definition of the genre. If someone were to ask me "what is prog?" I'd turn to this album.

Hidria Spacefolk demonstrate a heavy background of driving rhythm sections that keep the album exciting. There is an abundance of head-bobbing melodies which isolate the songs in their own right. "Ad Astra" opens with the feeling of one beset on a mystical quest or journey; no doubt related to whatever is happening on the album cover, which is honestly wonderful to look at. "Cycloop" may be the least exciting on here but that does not mean it should be ignored. Better to know the full album than just four songs, in my honest opinion. "Badding" is my personal favorite because it appears to be the most mature. It truly progresses into a wonderful song that stands out immediately after the first listen. "Endymion" incorporates the use of bells in an interestingly successful way. Another great walk through space. "Seirenes" is close to the third track in maturity. There are several change-ups that keep the song fresh and invigorating. It ends the album almost abruptly and in the tone like posing a question, allowing us to interpret the final chapter of whatever story has been traversing our mind the past 46 minutes.

While most people (myself included) would tell you not to judge a book by its cover, you are free to do so here. A psychedelic adventure through space and probably time as well. This album is an excellent one, and I would recommend it to any fan of the genre it belongs to.

Report this review (#1184789)
Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3½ stars really.

The lastest album by the Finnish masters of instrumental Space Rock is bursting with energy, and the cover art indeed suits the music very well. The opener 'Ad Astra' starts with a massive- sounding intro riff and continues in the familiar OZRIC TENTACLES -reminding trippy heights. Their sound is however harder rocking than Ozrics, with a stronger rhythm section and louder guitars. The momentarily calmer part somewhere around the sixth minute comes very handy in order to make the music feel less monotonous speeding ahead in one determined direction.

'Cycloops' is similarily mostly in high tempo with some brief slow-downs. As if the intergalactic bus is changing its passengers along the way. I continue this image of mine for the final minutes: "This is your captain speaking. There's an asteroid rain ahead and we have to use an extra protection shield." Or maybe that's not so fitting image after all, since there's no majestic arrival in the end.

It's quite strange to see a Space Rock piece titled as 'Badding', which is the nickname of a bygone popular singer (mainly of the seventies, but his certain worn-out hits are still heavily played in the radio... You guess it, I really don't like Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki!). I fail to see a logical connection in the music. Anyway, this longest track (12:20) starts promisingly with jazzy flavours of electric piano and vibes / xylosynth. Also the bright guitar sound can be spotted at first, but later on the soundwall gets thicker. The vibes - or whatever - remain there nicely. In the halfway there's again a calmer moment, this time slightly longer and with delicate New Age -synths, but the return to the HAWKWIND-reminding normal (fast) speed nearly becomes monotonous by now.

Equally fast piece 'Endymion' (5:55 - the shortest one) has bitingly riffing guitars and the hectic, bubbling trippiness in the OZRIC style. 'Seirenes' (11:15) continues the album's overall mood without notable changes, that is, hectic, trippy and rather thick soundwall, with those familiar slower moments along the way.

I haven't yet listened to the whole HIDRIA output in order to evaluate Astronautica against it, but I have a feeling that in the earlier years there were more fresh and jazzy details in the playing. For example the flute is sadly missing here altogether. This album offers A class Space Rock on an international scale and is technically very solid, but maybe the sidesteps away from the usual formula are too scarce on the long run. Wider differences between tracks would give the album that final big enjoyment. I believe this won't become my favourite album by this band, but it's worth recommending nevertheless.

Report this review (#1206887)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Finland's answer to OZRIC TENTACLES updated their sound for the band's fourth studio album, recorded almost half a decade after their previous "Symetria". Earlier efforts more or less relayed the same psychotropic torch carried by their Somerset forefathers: vigorous Middle Eastern guitar jams colored with auxiliary flutes and synthesizers. The formula here may have been the same (minus the woodwinds), but the music was more streamlined than before, and at times closer in spirit to mainstream crossover Prog.

The difference between the two kindred bands was always in their relative level of aggression. While the Ozrics appear content to glide among the stars in a solar-powered trance, the Spacefolk prefer to kick serious cosmic butt. The guitars are louder and the rhythms stronger, as heard in the dynamic head-rush of the album opener "Ad Astra". Even more typical is the fast and furious "Cycloops", a juggernaut of concentrated intensity held aloft by soaring anti-gravity guitar sustain: Hidria Spacefolk at their energetic best.

The lavish, almost laughably mind-expanding artwork is a reflection of the band's renewed musical ambition, heavier than ever but also surprisingly lyrical. Note the new, user-friendly melodies in "Badding", the longest track on the album (and also its least focused). There are moments when the arrangement of music is almost too accessible, sounding not unlike a genuine song, without vocals but suggesting a conventional verse/chorus structure.

I have to applaud the band's attempt to climb out of the same rut the Ozrics have been plowing for decades, even if it meant diluting their elemental power of their music with added structure and sophistication (the album is stronger when the template is simpler: fewer chords equal more adrenalin). The Finns have long been named as rightful heirs to the Ozric throne, should Ed Wynne ever decide to abdicate. But it sounds like the Spacefolk have other plans.

Report this review (#1514773)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hidria Spacemetal

Five years after their last studio album, here comes the awaited "Astronautica". The finnish space rockers become more and more ferocious year after year. The music is not very folky or ethnic anymore. Does this mean HIDRIA SPACEFOLK mutated into a complete copycat of OZRIC TENTACLES and lost their identity? Not really. While their guitar sound is definitely heavier, the band explores new sonorities and musical directions. As you will see, there will be a few surprises in this opus...

The opener "Ad Astra" is simply bombastic! Cosmic metal in the style of a boosted HAWKWIND, and featuring a great finale. A modern space-rock classic. "Cycloop" has also very agressive riffs and alternates mystical and dark atmospheres with discrete softer moments. The 12 minutes "Badding" is the longest track of the record, and also one of the most progressive by HIDRIA SPACEFOLK. It's a patchwork of different ambiances, such as melancholic, space, pop rock, metal or heroic. It even contains some jazzy keyboards! Although less remarkable than the other tracks, "Endymion" is also nice with its strange opening. However, a bigger surprise approaches with the ending "Seirenes". This composition is the heaviest of the record, and sounds like a lost obscure doom metal song with its gloomy organ.

This is definitely not the space-folk we knew on "HDRSF-01" and "Symbiosis" anymore. Not entirely space-rock either, it shows the finnishs emancipating from their initial OZRICs influences by incorporating other genres such as symphonic, jazz or metal. In fact, in ten years, the band's style has more changed than their british elders'. HIDRIA SPACEFOLK is just building their own new identity.

Anyway, "Astronautica" is quite recommended to HAWKWIND and OZRIC TENTACLES fans. It will be interesting to see which musical directions will be taken for the next album...

Report this review (#1548909)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2016 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Space Rock for Space Rock fans. Space Rock stabilized authentically. This album "Astronautica'', the latest album of a Finnish veteran combo HIDRIA SPACEFOLK  (sadly the latest even currently in 2020), launches more purely spacey soundscape leaning towards Ozrics or Hawkwind than their previous works. That is, sounds like they must have got to the Space Rock terminal station, unless they would not have been hibernated for a long while. There are some tribal or native elements here and there around the creation actually, but much more cosmic sound rays should be emphasized, I hear. On the other hand, their melodic lines or rhythmic bases get cooler and more brilliant. Therefore some 'authentic' Space Rock fans could love this opus.

Of course their playing technique, composition, unification of sound, or atmospheric effects should be fantastic. The first shot "Ad Astra" is completely constructed with delightful synthesizer-oriented lyrical movements and challenging phrases. Their splendid performances can take the audience onto the bright star (ad astra). Overdubs of guitar plays in the middle part tickle our inner mind. Unstable keys are also our gems. The following "Cycloop" has higher-tempo rhythmic energy filled with deep heavy texture and keen drumming power hitting our brain away. Synthesizer-based (maybe) xylophone-like sound agitation exactly like a cyclone is our hero. Basic lines are complicated but mysteriously we can digest them easily. In "Badding" we can enjoy various colourful sound tensions provided by them - a calm keyboard departure is developed to speedy heavy rock collective. In the middle part their playing tempo changes dramatically and fascinating repetitive spacey exposure blooms in front of us. This stream is such a killer. "Endymion" is another antipop psychic agent drenched in mystic melody complication tinged with ethnicity or orientalism. Simple electric guitar vibes are pretty supportive for the whole track. Sounds like they claim this cool soundscape should be their policy. The last "Seirenes" is quite kinetic and magnificent. Theatrical environment around the tune is full of passion. The very final phase involves SPACEFOLK's ultimate destination.

We might say that no incredible novelty nor innovation is found via "Astronautica" but who avoids this superb Space Rock Golden Road? Let me say I'm definitely immersed in this album veiled in the wonderful ad-astra sleeve.

Report this review (#2509221)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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