I have been reviewing the prolific improvisational space rocker Øresund Space Collective. Going back to “Ode to A Black Hole” (2016), also by is very different. The synths take centre stage to a backdrop of heavy toms recalling the feel of Pink Floyd’s early space explorations, guitar making an appearance later on in the second (long) piece, in a kind of Tangerine Dream way. Mind you, it’s more of a tranquil, trippy experience than a being ripped apart as you enter a black chasm!
Their 23rd release entitled ‘Visions Of….’ (Also 2016) was a mighty 40 minute jam to start with followed by progressively shorter pieces (16, 11 and 8 minutes). The opening title track has prominent, energetic bass laying a great foundation with the drum fills for some ethereal guitar soloing; the organ becoming more insistent. Around 25 minutes things get a little funkier, almost reggae like with the surprising entry of pedal steel (It’s curious how much like a synthesiser this can sound!) and violin. The next track ‘Above the Corner’ is, indeed, “a funk inspired jam”, inspired by Miles Davis’ ‘On the Corner’. This is definitely my favourite piece, with some great bass playing again (leaning on reggae slightly too) and some great guitar and organ chops, funky as hell. There is a welcome drop in pace on ‘Piece of Seven’ with some world flavouring including African drums, a real Bo Diddley kind of beat and a real mystical vibe.
“Hallucinations Inside The Oracle” (2017) was recorded in Copenhagen with members of Tangle Edge, Camper von Beethoven Sister Maj, The Universalz (and others). The first piece ‘Reflections in The Mind’s Eye’ is sitar rich at the beginning (KG Westman of Sienna Root who collaborated with ØSC founder Scott (Dr Space) Heller on the highly recommended ‘West, Space and Love’ album) before some swirling and swooshing synths and a nice sludgy bassline takes over with some laid back guitar becoming more expansive around the 10 minute mark and classic space rock drumming. Tangerine Dream is invoked on the stirring and extravagant ‘ESP (Extreme Spacial Perspectives)’ with its insistent fuzz guitar and bass and microcosmic drums, decomposing around the 6-minute mark as if falling through empty space as the synth subsides to a residue of fluid guitar soon joined by drums and telephonic synth; a great guitar riff and meandering organ (think early Pink Floyd) reviving the flagging spaceship for its 10-minute journey home. ‘The Oracle’ is a bit of a marathon over two sides of vinyl, the first part a violin and sitar excursion with drone like synth, it didn’t engage me as much the first sides did but will repay repeated listening.
“Experiments in the Subconscious” (2020) was their 34th album, a double LP or CD’s worth of material, taken from the sessions that had already spawned “Hallucinations Inside the Oracle” and “Kybalion”. ØSC uses a type of African drum called a doun doun and a talking drum on the first two tracks, adding a soupcon of Afrobeat to the predominant synth-based spacey improvisations, more Ozric Tentacles than Fela Kuti perhaps. I was particularly drawn to ‘Prosthetic Cuban’, one of its bass lines a variation of ‘A Love Supreme’, synths, percussion and guitars all combining to great effect. Never to do anything by halves, there are two bass players on ‘Lost Mileage’ separated left and right; the two guitar players are helpfully identified as ‘right’ and ‘left’, one of them Jonathan Segel also playing theremin and violin, as part of a rich tapestry of cosmic sound with Dr Space (Scott Heller) on synth as always. I don’t know if these guys have been listening to Sun Ra but there is certainly a feeling of Miles Davis in his more funky and experimental fusion moments as the album goes on, culminating in ‘Hieroglyphic Smell’ which has no fewer than three synth players.
So, to “Helsingør 2021” (2023) which starts with two 20-minute plus pieces. Listening in the dark is recommended: the guitar and violin soloing is ‘out of the world’, the rhythm solid. The first part of the concert is “more funky”; the second is “more acidic”. The title ‘Sailing Eastward’ is self-explanatory as regards the style, as violin, guitar and synths creature a melange of evocative sound. The 30 minutes passes relatively quickly as you get caught up in the groove. Bubbly, fluttering synths swoosh and spin in a live experience which I imagine would be magical. There are still pieces totalling an hour to go, and I advise listening in bitesize chunks, or if you want to have a totally ‘spaced out’ evening pour yourself a drink, close your eyes and chill.