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Moonwagon - Night Dust CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.85 | 48 ratings

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4 stars Moonwagon's debut album is a real eye opener, not since Italy's one shot 1999 wonder Sunscape (a true galactic classic) have I been so impressed by a new player on the astro- prog front! These Finns got together at a festival and decided to unleash this 'enterprise' on us space cadets. A delirious selection of exotic space rock compositions, coxswained by that most ubiquitous instrument for galactic roaming, the bass guitar! Expertly wielded by Janne Ylikorpi , the low end rudder is more intricate than say classic Hawkwind (who prefer a more brutal , steam-roller onslaught) or the hippy-trippy lunacy of the trilogy-era Gong.

The opener is an out and out classic 'Hoodoo Horizons' just pulsates like there is no today or tomorrow while relying on incredibly raunchy riffs, bruising rhythm patterns sounding like a very heavy Pink Floyd! 'We have ignition!' Easily one of my favorite space prog tracks ever! Lancinating synth blows, stringent guitars pummel without any mercy, razor sharp and anvil hard! Sizzling synth vibrates wildly and when the sublime kicks in, oh my my! Ylikorpi just dazzles with multiple tortuous runs that defy gravity. Guitarist Tiala slices through with shivering fluidity. Drums only further force the issue. I mean, this is just diabolical! Wow! The band has the typical Finn audacity to delve into a return to 1969 era Santana, complete with Gregg Rollie-like organs ablaze, just as hard as Mike Shrieve drumming on the ceremonious 'Highway to Orange Desert'. The guys just have fun, reproducing a sound that was glorious then and still is now, a Latino-influenced prog piece that is delicious and clever. Please focus on the rather precise instrumental prowess on display. Keyboardist Ami Hassinen invites some illustrious e-piano to great effect, together with is other ivories and passes nicely to Tiala to rip off a few sterling solos, sounding like Neil Schon when with early Santana. Another tremendous performance by the bassist, getting his nosy four string monster involved in pushing this miraculous track forever forward, invincible! This is very slickly produced in its inherent simplicity, yet well-crafted and inspired. Relentless brilliance, yes even the term 'stoner music' applies.

On 'Oceans Away' the Finns actually aspire to show off their Ozric tentacles but infuse the driving groove with some seductive bluesy guitar soloing. Pulsating, thrilling and yet emotionally awesome, this is another clear winner, a proud definition of what cosmic rock music is all about. Their style is so much more musical and textured than the classic leaders of space/psychedelic prog. Those are very lofty targets and Moonwagon seem to be on the perfect orbit to become the next big thing! This track is on par with the opener, a critical discovery of progressive mood music. Tiala just smokes it on lead guitar, egging the bass and the drummer along, heavy doom laden riffs keep one panting and claustrophobic. I am starting to laugh at the sheer pleasure of it all, a sure sign that I am being intimidated. Does not happen often!

The ultra-cool 'Super-Altar' unleashes a slow vortex of gentle sound, very mellow with wispy flute synths and acoustic guitar phrasings, the bass burrowing painlessly and drums just tapping along. Ethereal and relaxing. 'Starmask' reverts to the gritty bluster, wasting little time in settling old scores and pushing a dirtier agenda, boisterous and yet deliberate. Tiala slowly uncorks a screaming solo that's very 'Gilmour in a bad mood', thrashing riffs and colliding synths that seem to screech like a dentist's drill, all hammered along nicely by the pile driver rhythmic unit.

'Thunderdrift' as the title implies is a tempestuous affair, loaded with classic heavy rock pretense where the bass and drums pound obstinately and the axe assault is just a rambling colossus, contrasting with a serene mid-section just to keep the blood boiling. Of course, the concluding section is sheer volatile delirium, a spacecraft of musical insanity at its best, lost in the vast and empty corridors of the cosmos. 'Sundown Mountain', now that just nails it right there, a 15 minute+ finale that takes it to the nth degree, a symphonic projection instead of the more typical jam fest, the howling synth winds bring this work a more ambient inception, recalling a more deliberate arrangement that sets up a mood that just has musical lust to spray all over the horizon. Explosively melodic and a highly talented crew make for a superb combo, the piece just grows in intensity and sheer determination. Its atmospheric but with balls, and even tosses in some Magma 'like choir work, it's hilarious and so cleverly done. The Vander-like beat only conveys the zeuhl feel even further. Music like this scares me only because it's so good !The shift is gradual into a more rockier feel, sustain-laden axe washes scour the sonic windshield , the rough bass smashing through the mist whilst the snarly drums clobber hard and fast. Technically, these dudes are accomplished BIG TIME but it's the inspiration that I find so shocking, the interplay is stupendous, the beats super-tight and the passion, limitless.

With their first two masterpieces, Moonwagon are on my 'GET ALL THEIR STUFF' list, which is not that crowded really but growing steadily, especially since 2010. A masterful debut.

4.5 Noxious dunes

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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