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Space Monster

Crossover Prog

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3 stars Space Monster is an upcoming band from Toronto who were a lucky find for me on Reddit. The album is available on the band's bandcamp page (spacemonsteruniverse) as a name your own price download. I never expect much from a band who only has an EP out, and didn't expect much from them, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The EP starts off strong with the song Nonahedron, which is the second longest song here clocking in at 9:18.It starts off with an electronic intro reminiscent of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schluze with a space themed vocal sample which goes on for about a minute and a half before breaking into the main section of the song. (This is reprised at the end of the song.) Besides the spacey intro, this song reminds me a lot of The Dear Hunter. There are a lot of playful keyboard and guitar riffs throughout but never to the point where it sounds like its wandering, it's all very structured. Another band who i reminded of, though much less than I was reminded of the Dear Hunter, was Beardfish, especially in the drumming and a bit in the guitar playing. Though some of the subtleties in the music can be missed due to poor production, which is probably the biggest problem with this album.

The second song, Pocket Food, is a guitar-led psychedelic instrumental reminiscent of Beardfish's bluesier tunes mixed with a little bit of Pink Floyd. A good piece, but can begin to drag just a little bit after repeated listens. After that is "Rule of Acquisition No. 47: No Love Before Latinum," which is another psychedelic instrumental piece with a world music flare. This one is quite good as well, though is more reminiscent of The Mars Volta's forays into psych.

Crashslashchina is another playful tune, and reminds me of Beardfish's playful songs like "In Real Life There Is No Algebra" or "When the Rain Comes in." This a nice little song, and I have to comment that I love the guitar player's tones here.

The album closes with the longest song on the album at 10:09, Enter the Prism. The beginning of this song again reminds me of Beadfish's Destined Solitaire album, though more like songs like "Until You Comply" or "The Stuff That Dreams are Made of." About half way through it slows down into a Pink Floyd esque space rock section, until breaking off into a guitar solo.

Another things I have to comment that I like is that I the bass player is quite good and I never notice him fading back into the mix where I can't hear him which I always hate. All in all this was a great debut effort, and even though the production isn't great you can hear how talented the musicians are and there is a lot of potential here. I expect great things from Space Monster in the future, especially if they can boost their production. I recommend this to fans of Beardfish and The Dear Hunter or anyone looking for good modern crossover prog (as long as you can handle the very poor sound quality.)

Report this review (#1006051)
Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
1 stars I love the crossover prog subgenre: You never know what you'll get when you start up that album. It almost seems like a catch-all when a band can't be labeled very well, and it even seems like this subgenre is growing rapidly. I think that's a good thing. However, sometimes bands are grouped into this label, not because they mesh genres flawlessly or because they have such great and unique ideas, but because the powers that be truly cannot figure them out at all.

Space Monster is one such band. This Canadian band plays a unique brand of prog rock, but by "unique" I mean "pretentious" and "annoying". Sorry, I had to say it. I started listening to their self-titled debut EP, and I thought my hearing was going. The first track is so chaotic, so messy, and so deliberately disorganized that I can't see how any human being could enjoy it. Now, I hope this was all deliberate because, if not, there are some serious issues that need ironed out soon. Everything from the horribly-mixed guitars to the punk-wanna-be vocals sound really bad. I mean, REALLY bad. Indeed, "Nonahedron" is one of the worse tracks I've heard in recent memory: No melody; no meaning; no music, even.

The album does get better as it progresses. While I can't point out any standout tracks, there are some cool ambient, spacey moments I really liked, and I have to give these guys points for the well-done sax later on in the album. In fact, some of the tracks even begin to resemble songs, though the mix and the musicianship is still below average.

Do yourself a favor and skip this EP. There are some interesting ideas here, but nothing to warrant your time. I reserve 1 star ratings only for the worst of the worst: those albums that I can't see myself hearing more than once or twice. This fits the bill, and it's a shame, too, because I kinda liked the artwork.

Report this review (#1012239)
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | Review Permalink

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