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ALIEN PLANETSCAPES

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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Alien Planetscapes biography
ALIEN PLANETSCAPES got to be the brainchild of space rock veteran Doug Walker who unfortunately died of a heart attack in April 2006. The New York based musician has been a prolific keyboarder with a jazz background showing interest in using an experimental instrumentation consisting of synthesizer and other electronics. In 1977 he started with the avant-garde rock/jazz project YETI which existed until 1990. He additionally was involved in two other bands named THIRD SUN and COOL AND THE CLONES.

ALIEN PLANETSCAPES was founded in 1981 then based on an experimental approach with elements of improvisational rock, free jazz and the Berlin School electronic music represented by Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel. The band never was provided with a steady line-up for a longer period and Doug Walker also played under several moniker like 'Alien Karcasscapes'. Not intending to be signed by a label the musical output is placed on a huge amount of self-produced cassette and CDR releases.

1982/83 was a very active period for the band. Louis Boone (synthesizer), Kevin Shelton (bass), Marc Adler (drums), Reginald Taylor (synth, guitar) and Doug Walker represented the first line-up. They were involved with the International Electronic Music Association and played live a lot. The following years saw collaborations with uncounted musicians - besides the classic instrumentation consisting of guitar, bass, synthesizer and drums there are also some violin and saxophone players contributing here and there. Futhermore ALIEN PLANETSCAPES has been a welcomed act on diverse space rock festivals in the USA.

It is said one of the rare regular CD productions, 'Life On Earth', is culminating the project's effort. It was released in 1997 on the own label Galactus Music. Scott Heller (Oresund Space Collective) and other friends have put together the band's official website with memorabilia, member and gig lists plus music of live concerts respectively independent releases as a tribute to Doug Walker's exceptional presence.


Rivertree (Uwe Zickel)

Alien Planetscapes official website

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ALIEN PLANETSCAPES discography


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4.29 | 3 ratings
Life On Earth
1997

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ALIEN PLANETSCAPES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Life On Earth by ALIEN PLANETSCAPES album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.29 | 3 ratings

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Life On Earth
Alien Planetscapes Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Oh man, this album bears a challenge! Unfortunately Doug Walker is not with us anymore, because he died of a heart attack in 2006. His project ALIEN PLANETSCAPES is known for mixing avantgarde jazz and space rock to something very unique and infinite. Based on his early interest in using an experimental instrumentation, to name synthesizer and other electronics in general, he evolved to a protagonist in the end. So his music subsequently should influence a lot of bands, even not exclusively coming from the space rock department.

Just to point out this ... US boy Scott Heller has been a friend for nearly 15 years until he eventually changed to Europe and founded the highly acclaimed band Oresund Space Collective. Furthermore he's holding up Doug's legacy, collects info and music material and runs a website in memory of him. With deep respect I'm going to take a share now while writing this review. Concerning recording sessions Doug Walker seemingly never intented to be commercially successful, 98% of his music can be found on uncounted self-released cassettes and CD-Rs. Nobody should ever claim to have a complete list - this may be negated in a nutshell.

What I know, 'Life On Earth' is his sole official album, a 1997 snapshot which holds more accessible stuff and could be easily taken for a best-of collection. The band is in excellent mood here, great interaction, while I'm quite sure, this recordings are not reworked, polished or whatsoever. So what can I say about the particular instruments? Chris Altenhoff's bass is hypnotic in general, not boring though, he provides haunting repetitive lines. Blaise Slwula contrasts with his free styled quirky saxophone all over. Rob Alfonso is not present on every song with his guitar, but when he's on the table it's an irresistible mix of space and fusion. Synths and other electronical effects are often dominant, especially because every musician has a share here. And finally Matthew Block's drum appearance is just worthy alone, yeah, very playful.

Having said that ... this album definitely needed several rounds (months) for me to capture the brilliance. And finally it gets clearer that this often enough flirts with Soft Machine - obvious when coming to the excellent jam Soft Martian ... or you can also say with Daevid Allen's Gong comprising Theo Travis ... or even Embryo collaborating with Charlie Mariano. Well, of course Blaise Slwula gets the praise here. The fundament is a groovy fusion improvisation. Decorated with spacey synths this is really fantastic!

The intensive Chris In Space is delivered with an extraordinary suspense. You're eagerly waiting for the breakdown all the way through ... but this won't come! Therefore a strong performance indeed. Gravel is provided with a long spacey intro including an other-worldly flute. Then the guitar, as mentioned before stylistically outfitted with a blend of space and fusion, joins somewhere in between, great contribution by Rob Alfonso. All in all the songs hold a lush sound, a striking dramaturgy. Although presented with a hypnotic atmosphere always unpredictable.

Birds of St. Albans is something special - probably a very personal Doug Walker outcome, because completely electronically made. No, wait, do I hear a fainthearted saxophone? Spaced out in general ... and given with industrial kraut flirts. However not my cup of tea really ... or it's simply 'access denied' for the moment? Never mind, 'Life On Earth' is a brilliant achievement, which needs time to get in though - 4 stars, but tending to a higher weighting (the more I listen!).

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 Life On Earth by ALIEN PLANETSCAPES album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.29 | 3 ratings

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Life On Earth
Alien Planetscapes Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by AtomicRooster

5 stars Being new here I choose to review Alien Planetscapes' only album as my first review. Not because it is the best prog album, or even the best space prog album, but because it is truly an overlooked masterpiece of progressive rock. Doug Walker had been playing progressive music for about twenty years, in jazz/rock fusion, progressive electronic and avant-rock formats. Previously Alien Planetscapes had only released cassette tapes, which are an extremely varied output; everything from Crimson esq classic prog to synth only progressive electronic. In 1997 however Gregg Walker went about putting together a proper album and what an album it is! This album is an exciting, trippy, in your face and challenging piece of space prog. With free jazz saxophone squeaks, aggressive bass lines reminiscent of Magma and spacey keyboard effects that we expect from Hawkwind and Gong this album is a delight to any fan of psychedelic music. Unfortunately, this album went under the radar and was ignored by the prog community at large. Sad because in the 90s when this album was released, Dream Theater, Spocks Beard and The Flower Kings were all coming to prominence. Alien Planetscapes could have been part of the mini prog renaissance happening. If you are even a little into Hawkwind or Gong then you should definitely track this hard to find album down!

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