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ASTRAL MAGIC WITH SHANE BECK – THE SECRET PATHS: MORE RARITIES (2024) (Bandcamp)

Santtu Laakso has collaborated with American poet Shane Beck before on “The Last American Poet”; this was my first experience of the latter and it did surprise me how Beck’s narrated novella, if that is what it is, merged so successfully with Laakso’s music.


So, to the music: ‘Towards the Mirage’ is a great start, rhythmic with evocative guitar and synth lines and adrenaline-pumping passages of play. This is the Space Rock version, an Ambient version providing the final bookend. ‘Disenchanted Space Jam’, previously released on one of Beck’s albums, has some nice simmering organ and the music blends well with the narration, a sturdy bassline and some soaring Proggy synth work culminating in a strong HAWKWIND vibe. ‘Secrets of Aquatic Wisdom’ is a lovely piece that starts with a vibes sound, with speculations about Atlantis and deciphering whale songs and, generally, how little we know about what actually lives in our oceans and how they communicate, “creators of oceanic knowledge” is the way Shane puts it. ‘Fade into Shadows’ is another reworking of a previous Beck piece, the repetition of the word ‘shadows’ sending shivers down my spine, very atmospheric. ‘Beneath Pyramids’ has become somewhat of a personal favourite, the tabla at the beginning introducing a suitably ‘Arabic’ feel, with a combination of vocalisation and narration in an exploration of secrets waiting to be revealed.


Santtu has tried something different in this collaboration and it has really paid off- check it out!

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