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Secret Saucer - Four On The Floor CD (album) cover

FOUR ON THE FLOOR

Secret Saucer

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.35 | 11 ratings

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HAWKWINDED
5 stars SECRET SAUCER ? Four On The Floor CD Instrumental space-psych-prog USA band's fourth album and it finds them losing none of the spark and invention that has characterised three remarkably consistent previous albums. Things essentially kick off with the 6 minute "Time Spent Out Of Mind" where the driving bounce of the rhythm section is topped with an unending river of synhts and rhythm guitar, while guest lead guitarist Nick Riff, unleashes a series of searing heat guitar leads as the main band power ahead, the mix of space-rock and melody infused with a decidedly Middle Eastern flavour ensuring that they the huge sound is both accessible and enjoyable for all its depths and strengths, the whole thing constantly changing yet never losing any of its cohesion. "Lunar Pull", just short of 8 minutes long, is an absolute gem of a track, this time performed at more of a mid-paced slant, but losing none of its might or magic. In fact, the track just stretches out on wave after wave of melodies and musical excursions from the synths and guitars, all solidly held together by the muscular rhythm section. In the playing is a passion that's truly heartfelt, and even the odd hint of phased vocal as an extra musical dimension, only serves to make it more akin to a huge-sounding psychedelic mix of Mike Oldfield and restrained Hawkwind. Around the 4 minute mark, the lead guitar breaks out a bit more, then a different guitar lead comes in and the two stride forward over the rolling rhythms, the lack of any indication in the sleevenotes as to who plays what and when, meaning that you never actually know who's doing what on any one track, but rest assured that it doesn't matter anyway, as the tracks are just so phenomenal. This one just sails into the sunset on a huge multi-layered bed of sounds as those guitars fly and spiral upwards, the synths are like choirs, the rhythms are mighty and it's all simply quite breathtaking. Again just short of 8 minutes, "Daedal" is a tad more down-to-earth, this time the mid-paced rhythm section adding more electronic rhythms to the beats, while the synths in the foreground shimmer, soar and solo, as the guitars weave in and out and the track rolls on like a musical journey through a hot desert as you see the heat shimmering in the blue skies, while the drive continues, the track eventually taking on more fuel and turning up the power as guitar riffing joins the space synths and lead synths, the piece lifting off like a rocket on flames of burning guitars and pounding beats, as close to instrumental psych heaven as it gets for the final three minutes. After this, sensibly they tone things down a bit with a slice of spacey delicacy called "Awaken" where acoustic guitars join the bubbling synths and deep bass, with jangling electric guitars in there too and tabla-like percussion in the distance, all a bit like the spacier parts of the first Hawkwind album, only more stretched out and melodic. "The Dark Rift" at around 2 and a half minutes long, is what its name suggests as a deep and bleak multi-textured space synths excursion spirals out on cyclical waves of synth cascades set to a backdrop of cosmic orchestral synths and synth-percussive rattles and crashes, eventually fading into its own black hole only to segue right in to the 6 minute "Celestial Spigot" and here the band prove that they can produce something that, for its genre, is capable of mixing space-rock and jazz-rock without compromising on melody or the all-important human touch, so that, even with a guest sax lead from Greg Klucher, the space synths are still there, and once again, the feel of a jazzier restrained '72-era Pink Floyd/Hawkwind is apparent, only on this occasion, more emphasis on melody, and less rock, more jazz. The 9 and a half minute title track is a more laid-back, but no less multi- layred piece where the synths and organ-like textures underpin and drive shimmering guitars as the drums shuffle forward and deep bass hums and throbs, the feel like a more rock band answer to something like early Wavestar in its feel and melodic execution a sublime compositions continues to move slowly on, changing shape and texture subtly, but always cohesive and never any less than engaging. Towards the end a John Dyson-esque guitar lead flies in from nowhere and it's bite adds the icing to an already substantial and enjoyable cake. At three and a half minutes, "Aegean Bridge" is almost an attempt to produce something commercial sounding and you'd imagine that had it been produced in the seventies alongside something like Can's "I Want More" or Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein", it could have easily been a hit, albeit not quite having the necessary hook for you to have swirling around your head after it's gone, although that central guitar riff is not far off. "Notch" is two minutes of dark, "out there" space music that serves both as a full stop to the band's original work on the album so far, and a precursor to what is to follow ? and that is a near 12 minute cover of Pink Floyd's "Saucerful Of Secrets", as brave a move as it gets when it comes to covers. Whilst staying true to the structure of the track, what they do is make it their own by applying a wholly different sounding sea of layers of organ, synths, guitars, bass and drums to the piece so that the result is this completely different yet fiercely familiar answer to one of the great seventies space-rock compositions, remaining true to the feel, structure and outer/inner space appeal of the original but the added injection of synths and searing guitars, turning it into something that's even mightier than the original track, the fact that it works on all levels, a testament to a band doing something like this with a burning passion in their hearts for the band that originally played and composed it.
HAWKWINDED | 5/5 |

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