Friday, October 5, 2012

... STRANGE FORCES "I'd Rather Listen to the Bloody Birds"

These Australians (?) are playing with your favourite Kraut- and Psych-clichés: They were supposedly formed after a plane crash at a secret Airforce base in the South Pacific, played in a hippie commune outside of Berlin and churned out their swirling sounds at various art shows. Given this, you can expect a relatively fresh brand of conventional Space Rock from Strange Forces.

The opening "Daryl Somers presents Beyond the Mauve Zone" (sure, guys …) starts of with noises and speech samples, followed by roughly five minutes of Hawkwind-y monotony within the rhythm department. As usual in their genre, Strange Forces don't rely much on melodies, so the songs - and this one in particular - retain a hypnotic quality which is quite pleasant, but objectively seen just as interchangeable with the works of other bands. The vocals, which come into play with the following "Dino Brain", only add another colour to the soundscape rather than conveying a distinct message: They are reverb-laden echoes, that in this case hark back to prehistory, one might think. With merely three minutes, the track is the shortest on the album and consequently the most accessible with an appealingly meandering guitar on top. Check this one out if you deem yourself a potential buyer of this stuff.

The stoically minimalistic "Maybe we could meditate together or something" reduces the vocal delivery to hushed background chanting. The strange beauty of this one lies in the transparent sound and lazy beat, which gives the guitars (and the listener) room to breathe. On the downside, as has become manifest by now on the record, "I'd Rather Listen To The Birds" offers hardly any surprises: Once a certain song structure is established, it drags on for a given time and tapers out.

In the case of "Cosm Beater", we can talk about a longish interlude with a radio voice philosophying about time and space while the music keeps a strong ambient feel, only that the guitar playing becomes more frenzied - although not building a wall of sound - towards the end. "Castle Castle" is the six-string highlight of this collection: meandering lines, fizzing effects and a jet-propelled
drive forward. "This Universe Software Ocean" follows the same pattern, at least in the second half, for the first one is restricted to a droning almost-void, which fits the title and adds to the dynamic value of the record in its entirety - logically enough, for this is nothing on which you want to skip from one track to the next.

With "Temple Rider" you get dreamy scraps of singing to wistfully melodic fragments and soft drumming, the bass providing the functionally low fundament. At times - and most prominently during this finale - the guitar playing and sound has an Indie Rock feel: slightly danceable motives and only so much distorted, but sadly not often memorable. Since overall, Strange Forces sound like an amicable bunch and fanatic lovers of what they do, we should hope that they are going to ramp it up in the melody department on their next effort. For now, this is typical genre muzak that will be overlooked outside the circles it is targeted to - which makes it not worse, of course, but no highlight either.

words by Andreas Schiffmann

1 comment:

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