|Tom Hayes||7-November-2006||Live Volume One: Do Your Thing But Don’t Touch Ours|
Amen to that title! Despite the 1999 date of this live recording, only one track ‘Interplanetarian Lovemachine Pt. III’, was culled from that year’s “Mind of a Brother”. Two songs, ‘Upon which Areas May the Circles Be Drawn?’ and ‘Euphoria Euphoria’ are from the LP-only “Garden of a Well Fed Head”, so in effect they make their CD debut here. Also included is ‘The One That Really Won the War’ from “Organic Mind Solution” album plus a unique piece appropriately titled ‘Jam’. Typically live albums do little for me, primarily since they feature a straight run through of material that’s already been released, as if to prove they can actually play the music. But, no surprise to me, The Spacious Mind step up to the plate once again and delivers a fully improvised album that uses the original charts as only a base from which to explore new trippy sounds. What impresses me most about The Spacious Mind is their ability to create the slow trance groove, without being monotonous (a MUCH too common occurrence with newer bands), nor in a rush to show their considerable musical chops. They’re also wise in their choice of instrumentation, with plenty of perfectly amplified acid soaked guitar, organ, bass and extra percussion. These guys have the post 1969 Pink Floyd-via-Berlin-tripout-vibe nailed! One gets the impression that if they played the same set of tunes the next night, it would all be different. Now that’s cool.
Every few years or so, those Swedish cosmic travelers known as The Spacious Mind will grace us with another dollop of wonderful psychedelic trips. Here they even eschew the song titles, as what’s the point really? There are 6 tracks totaling close to 55 minutes, and it’s all instrumental ear candy anyway. Interesting to note that The Spacious Mind score better here on the mellow and meditative trips, recalling the Ohr years of Tangerine Dream, especially “Alpha Centauri”, or maybe Dom’s “Edge of Time”. Rare a modern band accurately recreates that vibe, but the extensive use of droning organ, echoed electric piano, hand percussion and acoustic guitar go a long way to explaining this. Of the two electric guitar centered rave-ups, the initial one on the back half of “track 2” tends to meander a bit, similar to some of the messier moments from “Organic Mind Solution”. But the “track 5” acid rock jam is a bulls-eye and when The Spacious Mind are on, there are few better in this field. The Spacious Mind are one of the very few bands today that seem to understand the roots of the past, while successfully moving forward with new and exciting ideas. This is the real cosmic rock music.
|Rob Walker||30-March-2001||Cosmic Minds at Play|
The Spacious Mind abandons the more symphonic influences of their early 90s peers and fellow countrymen Anglagard, Manticore, and Landberk, and play a very spacy and atmospheric style of psychedelic prog. Using e-bowed and fuzz guitar, synths, and a variety of percussion, they evoke the sound of bands like early Pink Floyd, Ash Ra Tempel, PLJ Band, and Agitation Free over the four long tracks that comprise this 70 minute CD. The mood is relatively mellow and laid back throughout, though there are some very intense moments and powerful jams here as well. Most listeners will be blown away by the first track - the sonic atmosphere created here is quite stunning, and is made all the more effective by some excellent use of reverb and spatial imaging. The entire mix has a vast spacious quality to it, rather appropriate given the name of the band and the album. The music alternates between more intense sections, featuring haunting e-bow leads over echoed fuzz guitar and low synth pads, and calm, reflective sections with sparser instrumentation and a more atmospheric sound. Often there are voices and other effects mixed low in the background, and at least one section includes backwards-recorded speech and guitar. For a majority of the album, the four band members do a decent job of avoiding the repetitive drum patterns and aimless noodling that too much psychedelic prog suffers from, but in some places, especially in the second and third songs, they try to stretch a few minutes worth of material into too long of a piece. The second track features a Gilmour-ish echoed lead and a sound quite reminiscent of some of the instrumental sections from Floyd's last two albums, but the mellow middle section goes absolutely nowhere and drags on for seven long minutes. The spacy e-bow noodling would probably work well if it had some direction and dynamics; the lack of these two elements at certain points during the album is my main criticism. The third track, the only one with vocals, will instantly remind you of "Fearless" or "A Pillow of Winds" from Floyd's Meddle album, but again, what could have been a nice short acoustic piece is stretched into a ten minute track that may begin to outwear its welcome for some listeners. Fortunately the better two tracks are the first and last, both over 20 minutes in length, and feature some very powerful and engaging music. The most intense moment on the CD, the opening few minutes of the fourth track, reminds me of a live free-form Ozrics jam, albeit with a less metronomic drummer. This album will surely turn more than a few heads, and is one of the better releases from 1994.
(Originally published in Exposé #3, p. 11-12, edited for Gnosis 4/19/01)
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