German underground pioneers Tonzonen is one of those labels; whilst I wouldn't claim to be an authority on the labels output, a scan of their back catalogue proves that, with the exception of a couple of releases, I've heard most everything they've put out. Later this month sees the highly anticipated new, full length album from The Spacelords. It's also a thrill to know that, one of my favourite new British bands 'Psychic Lemon' are about to release their second LP - 'Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay' in early January, 2018 on Tonzonen too.
Followers of Atom Heart Mutha will know that, over the last 6 months, I've taken on a new regular radio show with Hard Rock Hell Radio, which in turn has made it a little less easier to get reviews out. Regular blog content is starting to happen again and over the course of the last couple of months, Tonzonen have released 3 exceptional and different albums; it's those albums that I want to concentrate on now.
Nazca Space Fox - Nazca Space Fox
Interestingly, the band have described their tracks as "starting straight like the Nazca Lines in the desert and rising to somewhere in outer space; like finding yourself in a cosmic thunderstorm, without knowing how you got stuck there."
Opening track 'Weltraumorgel' is a great example of this; whilst linear and direct in structure, it slowly evolves and elevates in to the cosmos, disciplined and without the need to go full freak out. 'Isolator' is another fine example of long haul emotive jamming. As of label mates 'Knall' the band clearly demonstrate an ability to explore themes, as a band, without straying off into unnecessary chaotic noodling (not that this would be an issue!).
There are heavier tracks elsewhere, that are a little more stoner inflected such as 'Firebird' and the latter section of the brilliant 'Mindwalk'.
As debut's go; Nazca Space Fox is an enjoyable listen and serves as a great taster for things to come.
Karakorum - Beteigeuze
Karakorum beams the Kraut-Sound of the early 1970s, directly in the present and takes the listener on an intergalactic journey, or so they say.
Split into 3 sections over the course of the album; Betegeuze initially has much more in common with 70s Prog. There are great melodies over the layered synths and long complicated, instrumental sets. Stylistically, things change quickly; tempos rarely settle and there are fewer longer drawn out pieces. It's undeniable that the band have drawn plenty of their influences from Zappa (much more so in the third act) and bands such as Camel and early career Genesis; but having played the album, a number of times, it feels like the band have actually managed to pack in a decades worth of different aspects and subgenres of 70's rock, resulting in a highly interesting and arresting listen.
Beteigeuze must have been an exhausting record to make; what sounds improvisational, or part of some prog rock stew, is in fact a far more focused affair. Kudos has to go to producer, Eroc for piecing together something as complex as the frenetic 50 minutes on offer here.
Barrows - Obsidion
The album itself is a very cool mix of psych/krautrock, melded with beautifully played out, grand, electronic soundscapes.
Musically, Barrows share a cinematic feel that has common ground with Tangerine Dream. Tonally, and thematically very much science fiction inflected, their work is not unlike Tonzonens 'Sounds Of New Soma'.
there are Bursts of motorik drumming, with nods to Can and Neu! on the the second track 'Entrada' whilst there are post rock influences on the title track itself and actually not dissimilar to Nazca Space Fox.
Obsidion works incredibly well as one piece. The concept album, as it's intended to be heard, will reward you with multiple listens. The album can be downloaded for name your price on Bandcamp. I highly recommended that once you've done that, order a copy on vinyl from Tonzonen.
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