Is it possible to draw heavily from Space Rock, which was more or less single-handedly etablished by Hawkwind, without sounding like the British flagship? Sure, there are many bands that do well in the shadow of the originators, but few throw in something distinctively their own. Enter Black Science from Seattle, whose second album turns out to be a delectable hotchpotch.
The opening "First Contact Manual" as well as the relatively short "Exegesis" show the whole gamut of colours the group applies to its music: less riffs (but if so, they hit hard), more noodling, approachable vocals plus actual lyrics that are worth hearing - however vague in meaning - and even understandable. The quartet does make use of samples and noises, but none of their compositions are just that and nothing more. First and foremost, there is a compelling idea that justifies each track to be what it is, and only then comes the use of leftovers, respectively a recourse to leftovers from a bygone musical age, for example syllables sung in the background that hark back to "The Four Horsemen" by Aphrodite's Child.
"Hardcore U.F.O.'s" is beyond good and evil due to, on the one hand, its enervating main motif, while on the other, Black Science don't sound as compact as here anywhere else on the album - and the sizzling keyboard plus ecstatic six-string solos are a real show. By means of reverse-taped voices, the stylistically similar "Easy Prey" leads into "Anywhere", which in return varies between dense, heavy passages (yet still with that airy character, all drenched in echoes and reverb without sounding wishy-washy) and psychedelic light-headedness. The hook is provided by one of the singers (both guitarists stand behind the microphones) and enhanced by drummer G. Eichler's cowbell. Here, the man swings where more often than not, he stoically plods along as we have become used to it ever since "Master Of The Universe".
"The State Of The Art", a call to meditation thanks to squelching guitar tones and mantric, evocative bass lines. The midsection is one veritable guitar freakout, while for a change, the singing fails to maintain a structure, but intentionally so, as one could argue. The final quarter of an hour named "Our Sentence Is Up" goes like a bull at the (interstellar?) gate with an infecting riff, but then drifts off into improvisation that verges on redundance, would it not be for the layered harmonies which are kept together by the rhythm section's expedient, but still nuanced playing. The closing minutes are reserved for a bass-driven, almost danceable (think Ozric Tentacles) rocket ride - accompanied by the men from ground control - towards a hypothetical sun that does not harm, but provides the ultimate orgasm ... or something like that.
So if you are looking for a different fare of space food that still comes in a tried-and-tested tube, forget the tongue-in-cheek hubbub Black Science's label concocts when describing the band ("Occult" sells these days ...) and check out " An Echo Through The Eyes Of Forever": It's mushy still, yet tasty and quite nutritious, even in the long run.
by Andreas Schiffmann