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AQUANAUT

Psychedelic/Space Rock • Australia


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Aquanaut biography
AQUANAUT was an Australian mostly instrumental ensemble whose love for experimental rock has translated into a powerful, original sort of psychedelic prog rock that also comprises abundant elements of heavy prog, jazz-rock and electronic ambiences. Founded by keyboardist/bassist Damien Salomons and guitarist Luc Pawlus, soon the band was completed by drummer Dean Seabrook and keyboardist Warrick Fowler.

The band were very prolific during their time span from 2007 to 2010; either releasing albums independently or disseminating their works in the Internet (especially on Bandcamp), AQUANAUT have managed to make a name by themselves among space-rock and experimental rock fans all over the world. They released a much heralded and original EP titled ?The Taste Maker Suite?. Band members over the next few years included Sankar Das (drums), George Velenik (drums), Carl Belle (bass) and Justin Min (keys and guitar). 2009 saw the release of ?The Psychonaut?, a more conscious venture into the progressive framework of psychedelic rock, with ?Golden? being released one year later as a reinforcement of this trend: these two albums state the definitive vision of this band. By the time when ?Golden? was released, the band had already suffered a major line-up crisis that left founding members Damien and Luc right back where they had started. In 2011, Luc decided to go carrying in the project as AKH-NAUT in a more electronic vein? but that?s another story

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AQUANAUT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The Psychonaut
2009
4.00 | 1 ratings
Golden
2010

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AQUANAUT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Taste Maker Suite
2008

AQUANAUT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Psychonaut by AQUANAUT album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Psychonaut
Aquanaut Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
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.

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 Golden by AQUANAUT album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Golden
Aquanaut Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars A hidden treasure of space rock from Australia.

Aquanaut are an obscure Australian Psych Space rock band with 2 great psychedelic offerings. This album "Golden", their 2010 and latest release, is an example of the type of sound found on space rock albums from the likes of Hawkwind, or The Ovals, but with sudden time shifting tempos like Cardiacs.

The vocals are often echoing like Dave Brock, and the guitars lock into hypnotic riffs, though not as consistent as Hawkwind riffs. The band prefer to veer into odd guitar sounds and varied time sigs, making them a different beast than the typical Space rock approach.

"Golden" opens with 'Days of Pollen', a raucous guitar approach and the strong vocals of Luc P also on guitars. The keyboards of Damien Salomons are prominent, as are the drums of George Velenik, and bass of Carl Belle. Songs like 'Jaguar Politics' certainly remind me of the manic sounds of The Mars Volta or the frenetic pacing of Cardiacs. It is a solid track that highlights the unusual style of Aquanaut. The lyrics are as odd as space rock gets, such as "Hall ways nightmares, watching stars burst, fourth wind, Hallowed, sun burnt yellow".

The very fast pace of 'Who Got Horsie' is quite astounding for a space rock band. There is a heavy riffing guitar distortion that drives it along. The odd vocal delivery is an original touch, even sounding machine like at one point. There is a time sig change at 3 minutes that breaks up the speed, but the heavy chugging riffs return later and are augmented by spacey keyboards and horse sounds.

'Way of the Wolf' has heavy guitars crunching along with layered lead guitar phrases. The vocals are again strangely delivered with psych lyrics, "In ancient Egypt, oh Haiti Princess, the devil calling the angel falling, the book of fever, break the receiver, a pawn of its mind, it is forsaken, the nervous caller, forever praying." The lead solo sections are terrific, very fast and hypnotic over all the other guitar sounds. It also has a strong time sig change, and I was reminded of the type of music that Cardiacs might come up with on their masterpiece "Sing To God". The keyboards at the end make a fitting closing coda to this excellent song.

'Machine Lives' comes after seamlessly flowing and features some wonderful retro keyboards. The vocals are confident as usual and the guitars ceaselessly chime out spacey textures. For me the synth lines are the best part about this track, reminding me of Gary Numan's style or The Human League. The percussion is all over the place and really boost the feel of the song and I love the spacey effects on the vox at about 2:30. The lyrics are again very strange, "When in doubt first law, harness light beams, circuit break instinct, synchronising."

'Severed Heads' is a steady tempered song with a cool guitar phrase, and some nice wah wah effects as it builds to some spacey textures. The lead solo is smooth and cruises nicely over the jaunty rhythms. Again, this is a song that is well performed and will grow on the listener over time. It transitions with a sonic static sound.

'The Answer' has an effect on the voice and a steady beat. The lyrics are psychedelic and the voice becomes cleaner as he sings, "sidewalk sins and dirt cops, calls me Betty to my face, walks around in a disgrace, technophobe it knows its days, are numbered yes, the gamma haze, martian girls and secret sun, snort the coke from seven tongues." The Australian accent is more noticeable on this song for some reason, reminding me of Midnight Oil's sound or The Angels. There is still a spacey section and lots of synth in the instrumental passage. The low buzzing retro synth is a nice touch and this is one of the shorter tracks.

A drone and prominent synth begins 'This Omniverse', and I admire that Moog sound and chugging guitar rhythm. The vox only come in briefly on the 2 verses, with weird lyrics, "time is a snake, watched it from space", but the rest is really a feast of retro synth and mechanised percussion. I like this one very much especially how it chugs along on those guitars with synth lines taking over powering out a rather odd melody.

Next is 'Skylock (t.i.g.o.f.s.) which stands for "the infinite grace of falling stars". This has a fast guitar rhythm and the chanting title with machine vox, otherwise it's instrumental. It takes off with an effective lead break and some galloping distorted riffs. It is great the way the melody is repeated but gets lower and lower on descending notes until a fast trilling electric guitar phrase and very odd time sig. Interestingly, there are no synth solos on this one, rather it relies on guitars. Eventually it slows down with acoustics and ethereal spacey atmospherics. The ending is classic space prog, with the high pitch echoing guitars and sustained key pads.

'Chameleon' is another instrumental with one chant, "All is said and done, I'm a chameleon." The guitars are aggressive and there are some awesome riffs that lock in. Guitars are the emphasis, especially on the extended lead breaks, but there are some nice spacey nuances and electric piano that augment the sound.

'Think About' closes the album with more unusual lyrics, "Hologram mirror haze, feel so cold empty hall, machine doubt, silver walls." It has a bright uptempo sound, and cool droning synth with spacey swirls. This one is more focussed on synthesizers and has a fast percussion attack over slow verse phrases. It is an effective device and the low buzzing synth provides an ethereal soundscape. The instrumental has a simple chord structure but it is effective over the frenetic rhythms. The lead guitar solo comes in with some nice chord shapes and hammer ons, with soaring string bends. The synth effects to follow are mesmirising, and have that retro Moog sound heard in the 80s. It ends with more spaciness with a swathe of sustained synth grinding.

Overall, "Golden" is a hidden treasure that many still need to discover. The spacey sound is a delight, but the real drawcard for me are the way that the band structure the songs, with sudden tempo shifts and lengthy solos on guitar and keyboards, and none of the songs sound alike. It is a diverse album yet somehow maintains that original sound of Aquanaut. It should appeal to space rock fans, and is yet another of those obscure bands from Australia yet to be discovered.

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