Space Rock Collective
A review of our performances at Kozfest 2017 and the Widcombe Social Club in Bath by Jack Gold-Molina.
The Roadmap In Your Head "Second trip by American art-rock traveler and French prog impressionist chart mental routes into the unknown that's always out there near us.
For each of these collectives, it's always been about concepts and the looseness thereof, yet if Don Falcone's SB tend to intensify their spaced-out extravaganza, Cyrille Verdeaux's CL focus on ethereality, and though one would assume there's no common factor to them, the two musicians find a rendezvous point for the second time here. If 2013's "Healthy Music In Large Doses" showed a certain restraint in its stylistic crosshair, "The Roadmap In Your Head" finds the fellow travelers in the company of kindred souls, including members of GONG and HAWKWIND, who help bring the album's ideas home.
There's folk vibe to this strange tapestry, where Verdeaux's cosmic keyboards give the overall subtly absurdist context a crystalline focus, made painfully transparent on the title track by Daevid Allen's ethereal guitars and Judy Dyble's autoharp, as Mike Howlett's bobbing bass and Falcone's percussion spice it all up with nebulous nervousness. Yet, taken to "The Birth Of Belief" for a more chamber, piano-encrusted experience, the anxious throb is pacified when Ian Easts sax starts to soar, while Theo Travis' reeds and Kavus Torabi's six strings go for celestial swing in "Coffee For Coltrane" to shake 'em all down to the thunder of Albert Bouchard's drums and organ. So however alien the likes of "Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities" may sound within their synthetic matrix, a silky natural thread is running through the entire album, sitar and Bridget Wishart's velvet voice making "Isolation In 10 80" a life-affirming mantra.
It opens a magnificent panorama in the epic "Fuel For The Gods" to let Falcone's Eastern rhythms and Verdeaux's Western elegy-to-jazz meet in the shadow of William Kopecky's low-toned glide and the light of Harry Williamson's exquisite strum, whereas "Early Evening Rain" is unfolded into a Morricone-esque romantic vista for Nik Turner's flute to paint upon, although it's "Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase" that's the epitome of the project's progressive intent. It's there that the instruments do the talking, or storytelling, yet "Déjà Vu" - adorned with Didier Malherbe's brass nostalgia - is wonderfully retrograde in the piece's echoing of an "Impressionist Symphony" ripple.
This constant shift informs the record with infinite motion and populates a titular route with riveting traffic. Whether its real or imaginary, doesn't really matter, because the movement towards rendezvous is where the action is, and one would find it hard to resist entering the fray."
- Dmitry M. Epstein , DME, May, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "Here is another new discovery for me. The band is Spirits Burning with a beginning dating back to the mid '80s. The project was formed and developed by American producer/musician/composer Don Falcone and with thirteen albums to their credit have been very prolific. Through the years they have played with a number of gifted musicians including members of Hawkwind (Nik Turner) and the late Daevid Allen (Gong) among many others. The new release titled The Roadmap In Your Head sees Falcone pairing with Clearlight, otherwise known as French composer/keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux.
There are a total of thirty-five musicians in all, including the aforementioned Don Falcone, Daevid Allen and Nik Turner as well as Albert Bouchard (BOC), Steve Hillage (System 7, Gong), Kavus Torabi (Gong, Knifeworld, Cardiacs), Theo Travis (David Gilmour, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Gong) and Dave Sturt (Gong, Jade Warrior, Bill Nelson).
Ambient, psychedelic, jazz and space rock is what you get and as you would expect from such seasoned veterans the musicianship and arrangements are top notch.
The beginning title track features some nice guitar work from Allen as the music transitions between ambient and space rock. Although quite a mellow offering there is much happening in the background so you really need to pay attention to get maximum benefit. "Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities" is another cool tune with persistent electronic percussion and spacey washes of experimentation with whispered vocals adding to the trippy vibe. "The Birth Of Belief" struck a chord with me right away especially the gorgeous sax from Ian East and a fabulous instrumental build that relies more on subtlety than overblown excess. Electronic percussion, synths and piano add to one of the disc's most sublime moments. "Coffee For Coltrane" is more of the same this time featuring the angular yet melodic guitar work of Kavus Torabi and excellent lead synth courtesy of Verdeaux. Allen supplies vocals and guitar on the mood laden "Roadmaps (The Other Way)", the album's last track. His patented half talking/singing adds to the track's innate mysteriousness and dream-like atmospheres. The flute of Paul Booth deserves special mention. Quite a beautiful track indeed.
The best part is I only described five tracks. There are many other hidden joys to be discovered for those who decide to take the plunge."
- Jon Neudorf, Sea Of Tranquility, April, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "This is the 13th release by the space-rock collective Spirits Burning. It is the second to feature Clearlight, known to his family as Cyrille Verdeaux, on keyboards of various kinds. The album, The Roadmap In Your Head, is dedicated to Spirits Burning collaborator and Gong's late main man Daevid Allen, whose presence on guitar and vocals bookend the album.
Alongside Allen are a number of alumni from both the Gong of the Radio Gnome era (Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett and Didier Malherbe) and more recent Gong members (Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Theo Travis and Kavus Torabi). Also joining them are Hawkwind family members Steve Bemand, Nik Turner and Bridget Wishart. Amongst the 35 people that appear on the album are Albert Bouchard from Blue Öyster Cult and Judy Dyble from Fairport Convention. Though some of the guests only appear on one track.
Given the background of the collective talents here, it is surprising that the album is not as eccentric nor as whimsical as one might expect. The Roadmap In Your Head is mainly an instrumental album. The instrumentals tend to fall into two groups. The shorter ones are a bit more psychedelic and world music infused, whilst the longer ones take the time to build some great mid-paced, space-rock grooves. These have jazzy and electronic touches that remind me of parts of the Gong albums You and Shamal.
Therein lies the problem with this album for me. The shorter pieces feel a little unfinished at times, and do not hold my interest as much as the longer ones. There are a couple of exceptions, one is the pulsing synth of "Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities," and the other is the spry piano and organ interplay on "Mrs. Noonness."
There is not really a weak track amongst the longer works here. The fabulous "Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase" is a rolling space-prog number powered by Steve Bemand's insistent guitar and Verdeaux's electric piano. The great fretless bass pulse and the flute folk-melody of "Fuel For The Gods" is a joy. Both would sit happily on Gong's You. The more jazz-leaning tracks such as "The Birth Of Belief" and "Coffee For Coltrane" (the latter featuring the wonderful sax of Theo Travis) would have been a shoe-in on Shamal.
It would have been a tighter and more manageable listen (75 minutes is a long, but admittedly value for money length) had the shorter songs been on a second disc or just omitted. I can see myself returning regularly to the longer tracks on "The Roadmap In Your Head." This album is not just for Gong completists, it's also for those who like their space-rock orbiting a world of jazzy ambience."
- Martin Burns, DPRP, February, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "As one might expect when two collectives combine, things can get pretty crowded, even when one man, composing keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux is at the heart of both. In Spirits Burning with Don Falcone, (the band) has previously released dozen albums of jazz-informed, ambiently included space rock featuring contributions from Michael Moorcock, Steven Wilson, Simon House and even the significantly late Robert Calvert.
Meanwhile, (Verdeaux's) band Clearlight have been French prog scene stalwarts since '75. As Verdeaux's worlds collide we find Falcone and himself orchestrating a combination of players from Hawkwind, Gong and beyond. The Roadmap ... combines the talents of, among others, Daevid Allen, Nik Turner, Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe, Kavis Torabi, Mike Howlett, Albert Bouchard and Judy Dyble - though sadly, never all at the same time.
So this is no more a spaced-out Camembert Electriquefor 2017 than the Ringo album that featured all the ex-Beatles was a Revolver for 1973. It is, however, more than worthy of your attention. Largely instrumental, informed by trance and with echoes of The Orb as resonant as those of Gong/'Wind, it's chilled-out space rock nouveau, a different manner of ritual indeed."
- Ian Fortnam, Prog, February, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "The thirteenth full-length release from Great Britain's space rock collective Spirits Burning. This album initially caught our attention because it also features the talents of Cyrille Verdeaux who was in the psychedelic/progressive band Clearlight Symphony (the band's first album remains one of our favorite trippy albums from the 1970s). We've always felt that Verdeaux deserves way, way, way more attention than he has thus far received in the world of music. It's no wonder the folks in this band hooked up with him. The compositions on The Roadmap In Your Head remind us very much of Clearlight albums. The music is fluid, heady, slightly psychedelic, intricate, and very beautiful. A whole slew of musicians were involved in the creation of this album. The thirty-five members include members of Gong, Camper Van Beethoven, and Hawkwind...plus a whole slew of like-minded individuals. You'd think with so many people involved the sound would be thick and cluttered. But in fact, the opposite is true. These peculiar tracks have a nice open sound and feature plenty of superbly inventive spontaneity. Fantastic stuff. Fourteen tracks that are certain to inspire, puzzle, and entertain. Highly recommended for all diehard progressive music fans. Recommended. TOP PICK."
- LMNOP, Baby Sue, February, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "What will happen if we Gong and Hawkwind mixed? It makes Spirits Burning! We can say from the outset that this album is different for several reasons. First, we note that everything is well cared for: the production and mixing are exemplary, the attention to detail is present, the album cover is beautiful, the sound is rich and full of roundness, and especially the plethora of musicians and instruments bring an original touch.
After a dozen albums, Don Falcone brings his knowledge and experience to benefit and help musicians and progressive music. Located in California, Falcone, in addition to his albums, producing music for TV and film industry. For this new project, he partnered for the second time keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux, whose name tells you something maybe, who is the architect of the "Clearlight Symphony," release on Virgin label. "The Roadmap In Your Head" is constantly with contributions from musicians Gong of all time, starting with the late Daevid Allen. then recognize the Theo Travis saxophones touch, Steve Hillage, Bridget Wishart, Alan Sitar Brown and so on.
Musically, the album is mostly instrumental, very modern, like a box of chocolates. In fact, each piece is different, compact and polished to perfection. It reveals touches of Gong (of course!), The contemporary King Crimson, Hawkwind or Brian Eno. All these influences make it difficult album to be classified in a particular category: a bit psychedelic, a little space, a little art-rock, a bit ambient, a little 'trance', electronic or jazz, but all is never confused or mixed. The rhythms vary and it seems to make a little trip back in time through the synth atmospheres and electronic keys. Negative: some parts sound too much like the film music, but they are a minority. I am struck by the hypnotic power of certain instruments that are the framework on which the grafted violin, harp, and organ.
For example, "Sun Sculptor and the Electrobilities" surprises with its arpeggios and a beautiful voice. "The Birth of Belief", she demonstrates the live piano Verdeaux. "Isolation in October 80" sounds easternmost because of the presence of the zither, but combined with the sultry voice cabaret style of Bridget Wishart, the result is interesting. "Mrs Noonness" is very catchy with this repetitive organ that supports the violin. "Fuel For The Gods" is the longest part (13:05) and is reminiscent of the relaxing tropical beach. Beautiful. One of my favorites is "Outsiders Parachute In" viral song, delicate, and floating. "The Unknown Street" is a nod to the 60s with a guitar in James Bond. You see the evocative power exercised Spirits Burning! And finally, possibly in tribute, walking closes with the voice of Allen, this magical poet.
"The Road Map In Your Head" turns a fabulous album, both simple and complex, carved with heart and love, all for our pleasure. Strongly recommended, essential if you are a fanatic Gong. Congratulations Mr. Falcone!"
- Denis Boisvert, Profil, January, 2017 [Translated from French]
The Roadmap In Your Head "The musical collective delivers with The Roadmap In Your Head (brilliant title by the way) off its 13th CD. The driving force behind this project is the American composer Don Falcone, with a first release in 1999. In the collective find you handsome names back as Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Hawkwind course and Daevid Allen and other members of Gong. The present disc is also dedicated to the recently deceased master. A nice brew a contemporary version.
Brace yourself for a mostly instrumental palette of electronic compositions with a touch of jazz and space rock. The lavishly produced synths come mainly from Don Falcone and Cyrille Verdeaux (French prog band Clear Light). Each issue seeks her identity in additional instrumentation of violin (Jonathan Segel), sax (Theo Travis) or flute (Nik Turner), whether or not manufactured with the keyboard or synth
The album starts with an oriental tinged sound of the title track. Your brain is being prepared for a space trip of 14 brainwashing creations. Jazz-fusion rumbles through the boxes and do not be indifferent. The bizarre titles alone are a story in themselves. As a final tribute to Daevid Allen was one of his last songs 'Roadmaps (The Other Way)' was added. Half-sung, half-patter Daevid late look one last time at his obscure brain. Groundbreaking personality. We will miss him. But the seeds have been planted years ago. With Spirits Burning we reap the benefits. Also note as the theatrical and cartoon-like cover design. Engaging in all aspects!"
- Serdons Marino, Keys and Chords, January, 2017 [Translated from Dutch]
The Roadmap In Your Head "There is quite a range of sound here. It is all definitely prog rock, but within that realm there are things like electronic music, folk prog, space, fusion and more. Most songs are instrumental, but there are a couple with vocals (the last one male, while the earlier vocals are female). This album is a bit strange, but very cool.
"The Roadmap In Your Head" - Trippy kind of psychedelic meets electronic music opens this. That said, there is plenty of organic stuff here, with a bit of a world music vibe. There are some classical tid-bits that come across near the end of this compelling opening instrumental piece.
"Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities" - With little bits of voices in the mix, this is much more of an electronic piece. There are more vocals later, sort of whispered ones over the top, as the cut gets more energized. It drops back down at the end.
"The Birth of Belief" - Piano really drives a lot of this piece. It creates some classically styled melodies over the top of a more electronic backdrop. We're taken into more of a folk prog movement as the piano loses its controlling grip on the piece. It has some fusion vibes as it carries forward. Piano does come back for some of the melody later, but it doesn't have the same dominating role.
"Coffee For Coltrane" - There is more guitar in the mix here. This is much more of a fusion turned mainstream prog rock styled number. I love the horn soloing on this thing. The whole tune has a great groove to it, really. The cut includes some exceptional keyboard soloing, too. There is a mellower, textural section at the end.
"Isolation In 10 80 - This is a shorter cut that lands more in the vein of folk prog. It has some real vocals. It's an intriguing number that's a nice change.
"Mrs. Noonness" - There is a bouncy sound to this that has elements of electronic music mixed with country and more. This is another that has quite a bit of folk prog in the mix.
"The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It" - At just under a minute and a half in length, this is the shortest piece here. It's textural and pretty.
"Fuel For The Gods" - In contrast, this epic piece runs for more than 13 minutes. It comes in with a folk prog meets fusion kind of element and grows outward from there in fine fashion. The folk prog seems to dominate as it continues, with world music guiding it to a large degree. Further down it gets into some killer jazzy sound. Then it works outward from there with more folk prog musical explorations. It gets quite powerful and involved as it continues to evolve.
"Early Evening Rain" - The world music and folk prog elements are the ones driving this mellow and melodic piece. This is quite pretty and actually reminds me of early Alan Parsons just a bit.
"Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase" - Dramatic and rocking prog leads out of the gate here. This is high energy and one of the most compelling pieces on show. It works into weirdness mid-track, but eventually emerges on the other side with powerful mainstream prog jamming.
"Outsiders Parachute In" - There are some intriguing retro aspects at play here. This has plenty of folk prog and world music in the mix, too. Some jazz gets add into this in places, as well.
"Deja Vu" - Trippy, but energetic, prog merges with fusion on this number. The drums really shine, and there are some weird (but cool) things."
"La Rue Inconnue" - This is definitely based heavily in space rock. It's packed with class and energy.
"Roadmaps (The Other Way)" - Another cut with vocals, this time they are male. This feels like some of the weirder, trippy mellow side of Hawkwind. It's dark and rather bizarre. It's also very cool.
- Gary Hill, Music Street Journal, January, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "Well, here we go, Don Falcone and that musical collective known as Spirits Burning are back with another release, this one entitled The Roadmap In Your Head. As with a number of other releases, Spirits Burning works with others and here the billing is shared with Cyrille Verdeauxs Clearlight. This is actually the second time they have teamed up and it makes for an overall pleasant and engaging listen. Musically there is a little bit of everything here from the expected classically influenced electronics and synths to a Gong flavored light jazzy vibe. But then there are also folk-inspired pieces strong on flute and acoustic sounds. Given the fact there are upwards of thirty-five musicians performing on this disc, including a number with strong connections to the world of Gong, it should not be surprising to hear the variety of musical styles expressed. Clocking in at a total of seventy-five minutes, there are fourteen instrumental compositions ranging in length from two and half minutes to the longest being just over thirteen. Over all the stylistic feels that regularly shine through would include classical, ethnic and light jazz. Some of the shorter tracks tend to stay with one of those genre-types or at least a variation of it while in the longer pieces, those six or eight minutes there is a blending of the styles as a tune weaves its way through different musical segments. The general mood of the music is relaxed, floating, pastoral and often a little groovy. Which is not to say there arent moments with a little more energy, but those do tend be few and far between. Some of the tunes build in psychedelic energy, starting off soft and sparse but then gaining in intensity and jazzy flair. Heres where you think Gong. Then, every-so-often the Clearlight electronic classical sounds shine more predominately giving the composition a spacier vibe. There is a lot to like about this release; in fact its become my favorite Spirits Burning listen. Its just so many groovy musical vibes happening and it doesnt need to HIT you over the head. Instead it just burrows its way into your headjust as the title implies." - Jerry Lucky, The Progressive Rock Files, January, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "Hard to believe, but "The Roadmap In Your Head" is the thirteenth album formation called Spirits Burning (for details please visit their website), in which their music combines elements of classic rock, jazz, ambient, psychedelia and space rock, and juggling them with other things. It is headed by an American composer Don Falcone. For many years it has hosted a group of well-known musicians including Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe, Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Steve Sturt, Karvus Torabi - members of the old and new incarnations of Gong; and musicians associated with the group Hawkwind: Andy Anderson, Steve Hayes, Harvey Bainbridge, Nik Turner, Richard Chadwick, Bridget Wishart and Steve Bernard.
On "Roadmap In Your Head" is a total of 35 instrumentalists. In addition to the above-mentioned veteran rock scene, we hear, among others, a close collaborator of Steve Winwood, Paul Booth, saxophonist Theo Travis (we know it from the albums and concerts of Steven Wilson and David Gilmour), harpist Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention) and drummer Blue Öyster Cult, Albert Bouchard. And it is in this group form the most exposed, because the name, actually the nickname came at the sign: Clearlight. Clearlight is actually a project backed by the French composer Cyrille Verdeaux, who skillfully combines elements of classical music and experimental prog rock. We wrote about him a few years ago on the occasion of his plate-branded "Impressionist Symphony" (2011).
After the above description wide array of performers probably already know what the album "The Roadmap In Your Head" can be expected. It is in the vast largely instrumental in bringing together a mix of styles, the music being a kind of tribute to Daevid Allen, who died less than two years ago. There are two songs on the album composed by him, and in one, closing the album recording, "Roadmaps (The Other Way)" we hear him not only playing his characteristically sounding guitar, but his singing. And making the present album release as unusual and wonderful, as it is enormously valuable, and in some ways even timeless."
- Artur Chachlowski, MLWZ, January, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "The Roadmap in Your Head" is already the second CD after "Healthy Music in Large Doses" from 2013, which presents a collaboration between the Don Falcone-led music collective and the French keyboardist Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux.
"The Roadmap in your Head" is the thirteenth studio album by Spirits Burning, a project by Don Falcone, to which numerous guest musicians have always contributed. Among them, Daevid Allen, who died in 2015, composed the song "Roadmaps (The Other Way)" on this album.
The "Roadmap in your Head" has been composed by over 30 guest musicians, who were not only releasing their solos, but were also involved in the creation of the compositions, or the improvisations. This shows that Spirits Burning is more than just an Egotrip from Falcone.
Among the musicians are former and current Gong members as well as former Hawkwind members. Also Theo Travis, Steve Hillage, Harry Williamson and Judy Dyble will not be unknown to many progfans. All other musicians, who have not yet been mentioned, seem to be active in numerous other projects and bands, but I am not aware of them.
In two plays, the esoteric chant of Bridget Wishart sounds, which besides Hawkwind also participates with Astralfish, Djinn, Demented Stoats and Omenopus.
The influence of Cyrille Verdeaux (some by his Prog project Clearlight known) makes itself among other things through beading Pianoläufe and probably also by polyphonic, sometimes strongly to Clearlight reminding arrangements noticeable.
The continuous relaxed character of the music will probably not appeal to all friends of the "Prog" immediately. The mastering works were done by the electronic musician Robert Rich. This should be an indication that this CD is not just rock. Some of the ideas are almost the same as the rest of the ambient music and there are also a few moments that offer purely electronic music. Drum kit, or electronic rhythms are rarely used. The rhythms are usually accompanied by the strings, or by the percussive percussion, which gives the music a tremendous ease. However, this seems more dreamy and mysterious here, so it has nothing to do with the casual ease of elevator music. "La Rue Inconnue" has for once something of psychedelic pop music.
Overall, I consider the music of "The Roadmap in Your Head" a lively and entertaining mix of traditional prog, ambient music, electronics, jazz rock fusion, Canterbury, Space Rock (with more space than rock), folk and the Elements of the romantic classic. Sometimes it is difficult to say whether it is jam, collective improvisation, or through-composed passages." - Siggy Zielinski, Babyblaue-Seitin Prog Reviews, January, 2017
The Roadmap In Your Head "For those not in the know, and taking them one at a time, Spirits Burning is a musical collective that has released a combination of ambient, jazz and full-on space rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries; most notably Gong's Daevid Allen (who sadly passed away in 2015) and members of Hawkwind.
Overseen by American composer/producer Don Falcone, both he and Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux of Clearlight have collaborated in Spirits Burning (under the name Spirits Burning & Clearlight). Which leads me perfectly into Clearlight, an instrumental stoner rock band from New Orleans, Louisiana. They are also known as The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight due to other bands using the same original name.
The Roadmap In Your Head is the 13th studio album from the Spirits Burning space rock collective, and the second to feature the aforementioned keyboardist Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux. Roadmap also has a very strong Gong presence, as it includes performances by four musicians from Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy (Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe), and four members of the current Gong (Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Kavus Torabi.
The Roadmap In Your Head is a 14 step musical journey that from start to finish ensues once you undertake its musical journey, you will never come out the other side quite feeling the same as when you went in. Released this past November 4th, 2016 on Gonzo Multimedia, the album, as you would indeed fully expect, is a labyrinth of ambient, jazz and full-on space-rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries.
This truly wonderful, expertly created, beautifully sculptured new album begins with a sense of the Middle East as we open upon the title track of the album. It's not much later that we're knee deep into the second longest track, "The Birth Of Belief", a work of art that wafts you along on an electric jazz journey. Guitar solos are aplenty here also, especially within both "Coffee For Coltrane" and "Mrs. Noonness", but for me, personally, it's the expertly crafted depths of the 13 minute long "Fuel For The Gods" that is the real cherry on the fusion cake here.
Tracks like "Isolation In 10 80", "The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It" and "Déjà Vu" are quick instrumental stepping stones to the meatier recordings, made to sooth your soul as you pass through the album. The album comes to a close with the nearly 8 minutes long jazz fusion beauty "Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase", the intuitive "La Rue Inconnue", and closes with "Roadmaps (The Other Way)"; a song written and sung by the late Gong legend, Daevid Allen.
Here on Roadmap, putting the sonic avenues together there are no less that thirty-five amazing musicians and that's inclusive of not only the beloved members of the Gong global family, but some very special newbies also. Paul Booth (Steve Winwood), Theo Travis (David Gilmour), Judy Dyble, and Jonathan Segel from Camper Van Beethoven. Returning are Hawkwind family members Steve Bemand, Nik Turner, and Bridget Wishart, plus Albert Bouchard (BÖC)."
- Anne Carlini, Exclusive Magazine, December, 2016
Starhawk "Space Rock, I LOVE Space Rock and Spirits Burning are a bit of a who's who of the genre. The albums are put together from a disparate group of over 45 musicians all overseen at a distance by American producer Don Falcone.
Let's have a look on who is on this record and you'll get an idea of what you are likely to be getting. Daevid Allen, Dave Anderson, Alan Davey, Paul Hayles, Jerry Richards, Nik Turner, Bridget Wishart, Robert Berry, Keith Christmas, John Ellis, Kev Ellis, Matt Malley, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Pete Pavli, Ken Pustelnik, Billy Sherwood, Judge Smith, Steffe Sharpstrings, Cyrille Verdeaux, Steve York are all on the record and whilst it may be that some of the names there aren't immediately recognizable, the bands they are involved with will be: Gong, Hawkwind, Bowie, Counting Crows, The Groundhogs, Here and Now etc.
The album is a musical adaptation of the novel Starhawk by Mack Maloney which I've not actually read I'm sad to say, but never fear because you get a comic strip to give you the idea of what's going on. Musically Starhawk is a varied beast and as well as the more traditional space rock themes and styles, you've got jazzy interludes ("Spaceships at The Starting Line"), Bowiesque moments as in "We Move You" and it's pretty trippy prog fare overall. It's also a lengthy album with 17 tracks and 70 minutes. Personally I'd have preferred more of the head down space rock-out style to be present on this record, but the story telling element is important here and to get this across effectively I reckon that would have been a bit much, and so what we have in the main is a much more, to my mind, light-prog feel to the album with spacey undertones.
I'd like to see a Spirits Burning project where the musicians come together in one studio, but that's sort of getting away from the idea of the project and so hats off for managing to pull together a credible sounding album in a novel and innovative way."
- Stuart Smith, Hifi Pig, January, 2016
Starhawk "Don Falcone's on-going "Gathering in Space" continues with a musical adaptation of Mack Maloney's sci-fi novel Starhawk (I Googled it and it's actually a series). We've got over 70 minutes of music and more than forty-five cosmic crew members on this Space-Prog adventure. As usual I won't list them all but tell you that among the luminaries are the late great Daevid Allen, Dave Anderson, Alan Davey, Kev Ellis, Pete Pavli, Jerry Richards, Cyndee Lee Rule, Steffe Sharpstrings, Billy Sherwood, Jay Tausig, Nik Turner, Bridget Wishart, Cyrille Verdeaux, and Twink. AND the CD comes with an 8 page Starhawk based comic book with art by Steve Lines and Matt Woodward.
The set kicks off in full Space Rock n Roll mode with "Our Crash." Killer guitar solos from Billy Sherwood on this and "I Have Two Names." There's lots of variety across the 17 songs. I like the combination of Keith Christmas' vocals and acoustic guitar and Cyrille Verdeaux's piano backed by electro beats and spacey soundscapes on "JigSawMan Flies A JigSawShip." Things get Eastern Psychedelic jazzy grooving on "Let's All Go Cloud Puffing." "Stellar Kingdom" has an orchestral Prog-Pop feel and whimsically exaggerated vocals from Judge Smith. Emma MacKenzie's vocals are lovely on the beautifully ambient and electro rhythmic "Xara's Poem." Bridget's trademark breathy vocals are a cosmically seductive narration on "For Those Who Are Searching." Bridget also takes lead vocals on the heavy Blues rocking and Prog infused jamming "Right On The Mark," which includes an always welcome violin solo from Cyndee Lee Rule.
A lot of work has gone into this with musical contributions from the good to the great throughout. It has the odd slightly naff moment but thats the genre, theres lot of rocking riches too. One of the surprises for me was the drummer, I thought I guessed who it was but discovered they were drum synths! Very impressive use of the medium. If you ain't got it yet, put it on your Xmas list.
Other spirited Space Rockers include the propulsive "Live Forever," with dual vocals by Kev Ellis and Emma MacKenzie and guitar from Steffe Sharpstrings. "My Life of Voices" kicks ass with its ripping metallic edge, but also Kev Ellis' distinctively emotive vocals, soulful keys and King Crimson-ish guitar fills. "We Move You" is both ripping rocker and Broadway Space-Prog show tune. I like the ultra-heavy Prog keys and spacey synth licks on "Rolling Out." "Angel Full of Pity" starts off totally trippy Eastern Psychedelic before launching into a bouncy anthem rocker with potent vocals from Kev Ellis, who appeals to us fans of his old Dr Brown days with a little Bluesy harmonica wailing.
Lyrically this is a full blown sci-fi adventure and while I've not read the books I suspect this musical adaption would be exciting for Mack Maloney fans. For seasoned Spirits Burning fans, the adventure continues down ever expanding paths."
- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations, Jan 2016
Starhawk "As chief convenor of space-rock collective Spirits Burning, Don Falcone has been bringing musicians together across the ether almost since the idea of internet-based collaborations emerged, developing relationships throughout the pantheon of Gong, Hawkwind and related bands. Here, theres not only a slew of former Hawks, but also Keith Christmas, Counting Crows Matt Malley, acoustic troubadour Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Steffi Sharpstrings of Here & Now, members of Yes, The Groundhogs, Van Der Graaf Generator, High Tide Its a massive list even before mentioning a posthumous appearance from Daevid Allen, a long-time associate.
Falcone builds his albums around specific ideas, and this one is a concept album based on the Starhawk sci-fi novels from American writer Mack Maloney. For those unfamiliar with the stories, theres an accompanying comic-strip laying out the basic narrative. Its 17 tracks are mainly mid-tempo progressive rockers with spacey backgrounds and although theyve a consistency to them, the harnessing of so many musicians does lend it a patchwork feel which underlines that the songs have been built and layered from so many remote locations.
That said, full marks for Falcones breadth of vision. Arguably theres no one else in the genre using technology to build their work in such a widespread collaborative way. The effect that the expansion of the Spirits Burning family has had is impressive."
- Ian Abrahams, Record Collector, Jan 2016
Starhawk "Reviewed recently in the mag, a later release in the year, this second concept album is really rather good. Frequently on the CD player since its arrival, essential for Hawkwind and similar fans, and definitely one for, I hate the word, it's even difficult to type, prog fans. A lot of work has gone into this with musical contributions from the good to the great throughout. It has the odd slightly naff moment but thats the genre, theres lot of rocking riches too. One of the surprises for me was the drummer, I thought I guessed who it was but discovered they were drum synths! Very impressive use of the medium. If you ain't got it yet, put it on your Xmas list."
- John Brodie-Good, Gonzo Magazine, #161, Dec 2015
Make Believe It Real
Make Believe It Real "A new bout of cosmic unconsciousness from the spaceball dancefloor.
Since 1996, when American multi-instrumentalist Don Falcone resurrected his old band, this loose collective of kindred minds has been having a romance with the Old World purveyors of psychedelia. Usually with a HAWKWIND member on board of such an interstellar ship, Falcone's most productive collaboration is one with Bridget Wishart, the voice of "Space Bandits", and "Make Believe It Real" forms the third instalment of their journey into the pounding heart of the Universe. Its beat ranges from disco groove to serious rocking so stardust pieces come in various forms and sizes here.
The most touching one is the delicately hypnotic "Journey Past The Stars" where Wishart's voice is sprinkled with the legendary Twink's tambourine, yet there's a gentle strain in opener "Make Believe (It Acoustic)" as well that reimagines the title track issued before on a HAWKLORDS compilation, with Simon House's violin, to take a pride of place on this package's second disc alongside other relevant material, remixes and all featuring another veteran, GONG's Daevid Allen. His bass and ex-THE ENID Nick May's guitars propel the heavy "SpaceRocknRoll" towards blissful insanity, while "Be Careful What You Wish" offers a rave ride, but when it comes to the edge-of-time riffage, "Demonkind" and "Revenant," in which Harvey Bainbridge's synths flesh out Martin Plumley's axe, sharpen the focus. In its turn, the tribal twist of "Eternal Energy" sees Jay Tausig weaving his six-string voodoo into an organ-oiled dark matter, whereas closing epic "Reflections" finds the band, with jazzy piano and fiddle in tow and Jean van den Elsen's vocals complementing Bridget's, chart a gentle acid folk course through time.
There's much to enjoy on the way there, albeit not without a certain nebulosity, but that's the route all spirits take." ***4/5
-- Dmitry M. Epstein, DME, March, 2015
Make Believe It Real "Spirits Burning made its first appearance in 1986 in the psychedelic underground scene from San Francisco when a number of musicians from different bands started jamming together. In 1996 Don Falcone, keyboard player of Melting Euphoria and Fireclan, revived the project with the idea of bringing different musicians together and allow everyone to play, but also bring in musical input. A first album was released in 1999 which included Steven Wilson amongst others. Over the years to follow several albums were released in different line ups.
"Make Believe It Real" is the third album together with Bridget Wishart, after "Earth Born" (2008) and "Bloodlines" (2009). Bridget Wishart was shortly the singer for Hawkwind and later for Astralfish and Mooch and several more bands. Spirits Burning has a large number of people with a Hawkwind connection on this release: Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bernard, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Simon House, Paul Hayles and Dan Thompson. Furthermore there are contributions from regular Spirits Burning contributor Daevid Allen (Gong) and Twink (The Pink Fairies, Hawkwind and Stars, a band that also featured Syd Barrett). And a lot of other little less-known but still experienced people.
With so many people with a Hawkwind connection it is no surprise that the album is dominated by space rock. But it also has elements of psychedelic folk, progressive rock and even some psi-trance influences. With so many people involved it sounds remarkably coherent. The jamming and improvisations have been carefully worked out to proper songs, very well orchestrated and it sounds like the album of a small group of fixed people rather than a loose collective. Bridget Wishart is not a very expressive singer. Her singing is rather soft and introvert but it gives the music a mystical atmosphere. The closing track of the first disc is a quiet track that starts with a piano improvisation and acoustic guitar and violin, reminding a bit of Popol Vuh. A second similar track has been left on the shelf for a follow up album and it provides a blue print for a new direction."
Make Believe It Real is an album that needs a few listens but then it grows better and better. It is a must for Hawkwind fans. But I recommend it for open minded music lovers as well. It is an illustration that space rock is not some relic from the 1970s, but that it is still vital and ever evolving music well into the 21st century. May the force be with you...
-- Erik Gibbels (edited by Astrid de Ronde), Background Magazine, March, 2015
Make Believe It Real "The cast list on the wonderfully titled, "Make Believe It Real" from Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart, is enough to pique any Space Rocker's interest and with a few reservations, I'd say rightly so; Daevid Allen, Alan Davey, Simon House, Harvey Bainbridge, Richard Chadwick, Keith The Bass and Nick May, being merely the tip of the iceberg on an album where the credit list is so long it would take up this entire review. Then factor in Bridget Wishart and her connections to Hawkwind and really, there are many reasons here to sit up and take notice.
So why those reservations? Well, even in a genre where the point is often skirted round for lengthy periods, "Make Believe It Real" really can stretch the patience, meandering themes simply floating by almost without reaching their intended destination. However in truth across roughly 90 minutes of music and two discs it is a minor quibble and one easily negated by the sheer, shimmering charm of much of what is on offer. Oddly disc two, the bonus disc, is possibly the best place to start, the six tracks on show (including a version of Pink Floyd's "Take Up Thy Stereoscope And Walk") being far more immediate and creating a smooth, if engaging introduction to this album. In fact the ever evolving and wonderfully bass led "Chain Of Thought", which closes out this entire set, evolves so masterfully across its eight minutes that whether through whispered voices, floating flute, or guitar bursts, it represents this set of songs quite majestically.
However the main piece here is a far harder nut to crack- and I guess intentionally so, with initial remoteness only mellowing after lengthy engagement. Something that does appear to be a dying art these days. The (kind of) title track "Make Believe (It Acoustic)" is an uncompromising opening, a lack of an obviously steady beat and an off kilter vocal immediately taking you aback and yet drawing you in, as much through intrigue for where this journey will take you, as it is for out and out wonderment at the music itself. "Cyber Space" continues the, "can you keep up?", approach, a thumping beat this time suggesting a totally different outcome and while keyboards and effects suddenly take a far more prominent place in proceedings, there's still an unexpected mood of kinship with its predecessor.
Different vibes are revealed, "Revenant" a more primitive piece of Rock, "Demonkind" determined to keep you on the back foot, but in a surprisingly accessible manner this time. Add in the satisfyingly swaying "SpaceRocknRoll" and there's certainly more than enough variance across an album which still makes for an extremely cohesive collective. However it is the closing, lengthy, ever evolving seven part "Reflections" which best illustrates the variety Spirits Burning can serve up, all the while Bridget Wishart adding some wonderful, light touches.
"Make Believe It Real" is an adventure into days passed and while there are a few occasions where the wandering drifts ever so slightly towards aimless, on the whole the beauty and scope of what has been created wins through. I can't call it a classic, but if this is your thing, then you'll find much to enjoy here and lose many an hour doing so."
-- Steven Reid, Sea of Tranquility, September, 2014 [3 1/2 of 5 stars]
Make Believe It Real "This is, amazingly the 12th album by Don Falcone's space rock collective and the third collaboration with the former Hawkwind vocalist and EWI player Bridget Wishart. It features a veritable who's-who of the space rock scene; from the wonderfully alternative performances by Gong's Daevid Allen, Hawkwind past-and-present members including Harvey Bainbridge, Simon House, Richard Chadwick and Alan Davey plus guest performances from Twink, Nick Mays and Nigel Mazlyn-Jones amongst others.
This release is the band's first double CD. Disc one is the album Make Believe It Real, whilst disc 2 rounds up alternative tracks, remixes of previous material and songs recorded for other projects. As a result it is a bonus curate's egg of random rarities.
Standing out on the second disc is a fantastic cover of Pink Floyd's "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk", and the wonderful epics, "Always (Spirited Away)" and "Chain Of Thought." The title track (also on disc 2) has a wonderful, ethereal quality to it.
The main attraction here however is Disc 1. Like all the best band leaders in the world from Miles Davis to Ashley Hutchings, Don Falcone picks and chooses which collaborators work best on which song. The quality of the collaborators is of a high standard throughout and the way the album is pulled together by Wishart and Falcone is a testament to their skills as performers and arrangers, and the choice of fantastic collaborators.
However this is a Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart project, and Bridget's superb vocals are to the fore on all the tracks, whilst her beautiful flute and EWI playing weaves its way through the aural soundscapes that she and Don have composed together.
Lyrically, Bridget is on fine form here. The epic, majestic sweep of the 14-minute plus "Reflections" is a joy to behold and listen to, whilst the opening beauty of "Make Believe It (acoustic)" and the self explanatory "Space Rock'n'Roll" are all highlights from a uniformly strong album.
If you enjoy Wishart's work with other collaborators like OmenOpus, Chumley Warner Bros or Hawkwind, or if the wonderful kind of space rock displayed here is your trip, then you will fall in love with the magic of this album.
-- James R Turner, DPRP, December, 2014
Make Believe It Real "'Make Believe It Real' is another SPIRITS BURNING co-production where Bridget Wishart plays an important role according to lyrics and music - a singer/songwriter artist working in partnership with Don Falcone since 2003. Yet again just about a million freelance collaborators or so are involved in the recordings. Many familiar names are deriving from the widespread Hawkwind family hereby. To bring such an amount of musicians together for the recordings would mean to achieve the impossible, hence cultivating this sort of approach in developing music - which is Don's job most likely - requires another strategy of course.
CD1 features eleven new compositions, where the second disc comprises remixes and songs that were previously available on compilations only. Generally speaking, this is more dedicated to spend a relaxed one and a half hour. Apart from the synths maybe, a space rock component decreases here to the benefit of ambient, folk, jazz and lounge associated moments. Accordingly, Bridget is not acting like a standard rock singer, her voice is rather charming, more ethereal, restrained, not pushing at all. Also, well-known for being in control of a EWI synthesizer she's contributing a lot here while generating diverse wind instruments. On top of it the cover artwork is developed by her too.
Technically seen this is flawless, as everything what is worked out by Don's hands music-wise, no doubt. A lot of details are to recognize again. And the album is far from being overproduced, regarding such a bunch of different contributors. However the compostions can't seduce me all the way through. The extended folk/chamber drenched "Reflections" suite for example can't touch my soul, probably designated as the album's centerpiece and certainly produced with heart and mind. A matter of taste of course. On the other hand, featuring Alan Davey's (bass) and Jay Tausig's (guitar) ambitious share, I like the powerful "Eternal Energy" that much.
Luckily, the bonus tracks on CD2 are considerably improving the whole production, starting with the space rock genre typical "Always." Or just following the wonderful triphop flavoured "Iceflow" which comes Lunar Dunes reminiscent. And finally "Chain Of Thought" evolves to another captivating example. This album may find some fans, especially those who are oriented at Bridget's appeal of course. Anway, I would prefer other SPIRITS BURNING productions though. Apart from that - and this will round up my rating in the end.- for me it's still awe-inspiring to observe how this collective is realizing the process of developing music."
-- Uwe Zickel (Rivertree), Progarchives, November, 2014 [3 of 5 stars]
Make Believe It Real "In light of the current progress of Don Falcone, the elder statesman of the band, from his twenty-year career, Spirits Burning is now certainty a point of reference for the entire space rock scene today. It is not coincidental that a large number of people gravitate around him who have made the history of this genre. "Make Believe It Real," the band's latest album, is no exception, Spirits Burning continues to be a real open band where entering and leaving pieces of the history of cosmic music. We find the now inevitable Daevid Allen, a nice nest egg of Hawkwind (Bridget Wishart, Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Paul Hayles, Simon House, Dan Thompson), Keith Bass from the Here and Now, Nick May from Whimwise, Twink of the Pink Fairies, Mazlyn Nigel Jones and many more, for a total of about forty collaborations.
Among the former Hawkwind players is Bridget Wishart, co-owning the album, and that she has a major role. All the music on "Make Believe It Real" seems to be shaped around her hypnotic voice and persuasively guides us through the very soft and sometimes a bit 'too glossy atmosphere. We are talking about space rock, but with many ideas such as electro jazz, trip hop and new age.
The music flows liquidly, wrapping us in beautiful ballads, acid and visionary, albeit mysterious, without drawing positive moods. The album is very long and two CDs are perhaps too many. Overall, it is a bit repetitive in the pattern and shape, but is still pleasant and soothing listening.
Between the two CDs, perhaps, the second, which in theory should contain the "bonus track," is the best. Tracks like "Always (Spirited Away)," the quirky cover of Pink Floyd's "Take Up Thy Stereoscope And Walk" are jewels. However, the best track is just the final track "Chain of Thought" which encompasses the whole world of Spirits Burning fact of whispering voices, punchy bass, hypnotic flutes and guitars to Steve Hillage.
The structure of the double album brings some filler too and perhaps making a more accurate selection, you could improve the overall quality, but in any case it remains a work of high level and the height of its predecessors; an album that will rapture all lovers of psychedelic and romantic [music], and will eagerly take you on a first class cosmic trip with no surprises and with all the comforts insured."
-- Francesco Inglima, Arlequins, November 2014 [Translated from Italiano]
Make Believe It Real "This is the third CD under the band name Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart, the first two being Earthborn and Bloodlines, both released in 2009. Although ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget has taken part in other Spirits Burning projects as well (12 CD's released in total), on these three her impact is much greater. This time Don Falcone's international collective has given us a double CD, with the tracks on CD 2 being bonus tracks. Other musicians featured include Daevid Allen (Gong, as always), Hawkwind family members Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Paul Hayes, Simon House, Dan Thompson & Twink (Pink Fairies) and lots more... Phew!
As usual, the musical style and atmosphere differs quite a lot from song to song. There are 11 tracks on the first, actual CD. The songs that rock out the most are the pretty heavy "Demonkind", "Revenant" that sounds like '77 Hawkwind and also has lots of cool space sounds and cool space rockers "Eternal Energy" and "SpaceRocknRoll". The opener "Make Believe (It Acoustic)" is closer to folk with beautiful guitar, violin, flute and soft vocals. The more ambient tracks like "Cyber Spice" and more trancey, electronic pieces like "Be Careful What You Wish For", "Skyline Signal" and especially the excellent and mystical "Embers" sound very nice too. The first CD ends with the fourteen-minute, mostly acoustic "Reflections" that's quite mellow, but progressive track with lots of piano, acoustic guitar and wind instruments and also some male vocals. This sounds a bit like modern classical music, not really my cup of tea but still pretty nice somehow also reminding me of Renaissance.
On the second CD we have six bonus tracks. "Always (Spirited Away)" is a new (and very good!) mix by Don and includes for example some nice violin by Simon House. What an excellent track! "No One Cries in Space" is another remix and pretty chilled out, just like "Iceflow (Icetalk Mix)". "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" was originally released on the Pink Floyd tribute More Animals at the Gate of Reason that I don't have, so it was a pleasure to hear this for the first time. "Make Believe It Real" was previously released on the Hawklords Friends and Relations compilation that I also missed and sounds very cool and mellow. "Chain of Thought" is a special track that Bridget and Miles created and donated to Spirits Burning, and I like it a lot since it's a little heavier than usual."
All in all, this is another great album by the Spirits Burning collective and every fan of progressive space rock and experimental ambient/electronic/acoustic music should check it out. -- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, October, 2014
Make Believe It Real "Don Falcone and his squad of space-rockers
One day, in the best of all possible worlds, we will witness the re-evaluation of a musician like Don Falcone. For now, we can be satisfied giving him cult status, a status that Falcone probably wants, as he barricades himself behind his fleet of keyboards and sits behind the monitor and PC, working as a great director of space-rock operations. One of these is called Spirits Burning.
A sort of modern centipede, this Spirits Burning, especially in this new double album given the amount of material "Make Believe It Real": Don Falcone has put together an orchestra of cosmic rock, assigning parts to every guest remotely, alongside vocalist and wind-player Bridget Wishart, whose role was decisive enough to appear in the band name. A swarm of colleagues, including Daevid Allen, Simon House, Alan Davey, Jay Tausig, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Harvey Bainbridge and the legendary Twink, enrich the double album: seventeen pieces that touch all the modern aspects of cosmic rock-psychedelic, with progressive links (e.g. the "Reflections" suite ). Space ballads ("No One Cries in Space") are interwoven with frescoes of fast-paced sidereal rock ("Revenant"), art-rock experiments ("Iceflow"), arm in arm with electronic blitz ("Be Careful What You Wish") and the Floydian cover (Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk) in a multicolour framework.
The general thrust of the work is that of a sound floating, suspended in a hypnotic absent of space and time: "Cyber Spice," "Chain of Thought," "Eternal Energy" and "Always," the most representative moments of the disc, have the merit of variation in structure and a lack of excessive sameness. "Make Believe It Real" does not shine for personality or innovativeness, but, paradoxically, the adherence to the dictates of space-rock gives it meaning and direction." [7 out of 10]
-- Donato Zoppo, MovimentiPROG, September, 2014
Make Believe It Real "Spirits Burning is the brainchild of keyboardist Don Falcone and he's recently taken to creating music in cooperation with others and sharing the spotlight, most recently it was Clearlight and here it's Bridget Wishart. The other thing you need to remember about Don Falcone is he likes to work with lots of musicians. In the case of Make Believe it Real there are over 35 players contributing their talents on different tracks. The spotlight, if there is one, shines on Wishart who's wistful vocals are on each of these tracks along with her flute and synth playing. This is a two disc set that is really hard to label musically in part because there is so much variety on display.
"Make Believe it Real" features eleven tracks on disc one, 60-minutes, and another six tracks on disc two. To set the stage properly Spirits Burning likes to position themselves in the Space-rock genre with hints of dance, electronic, psychedelic and rock all mixing it up. A number of the musicians come from the Gong family which inevitably creates a certain musical flavor. Sound wise, tunes will go from spacey, ethereal sounds infused with echoes and electronic to more techno, steady-beat dance inspired material. At other times there is more of a psychedelic rock vibe happening with hints of everything from Hawkwind to Steve Hillage. It's kind of all over the place and yet hangs together quite nicely around Wishart's vocals. Most of the shorter, three, four or five-minute songs are structured in a traditional fashion but the longer songs like "Reflections" [14:15] have more musical change-ups.
"Make Believe it Real" isnt going to appeal to all Prog fans, in fact outside of dedicated Gong fans it may have a rather narrow appeal. That being said, given a chance the music created here is catchy and pleasing to the ear, and given its variety it will have good shelf life to those of you who give it a shot. So if you're in the mood for something a little different with elements of familiarity you would do well to check out Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart."
-- Jerry Lucky, The Progressive Rock Files, August 2014
Make Believe It Real "This album arrived a good while ago and I was really excited when it did as I was a bit of a fan of the Hippy Slags back in the festival days and as readers will know a huge fan of Hawkwind with who Bridget Wishart performed on "Space Bandits," "Palace Springs," "California Brainstorm" and "Take Me To Your Future."
Look at the line up on "Make Believe It Real" and it reads like a who's who in space rock: Daevid Allen of Gong (wishing you a speedy recovery!!!), Harvey Bainbridge, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Simon House, Keith The Bass, Nick May, Twink ... the list goes on and on and on.
There are two CDs in this pack and it's unmistakably most definitely a space rock album, but there are other elements of a more gentle and less obvious nature in there and its really a rather excellent album indeed, though on initially hearing it I was a bit sceptical to say the least ... most certainly a record that needs a few runs through to really get a grip on.
All the tunes on "Make Believe" are penned by the folk involved other than the Pink Floyd track "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" and all are original to this record I believe, but I had a moment of déjà vu with one of the verses in "Eternal Energy" which I think is lifted from a Hippy Slags' tune - "Cats Mother" if I recall.
Given the number of folk involved in this album it should sound all over the place but it doesn't ... it's coherent and really rather beautiful. The final track on the first CD, "Reflections" is a bit of a masterpiece to my mind and is made up of seven distinct parts and takes a bit of a departure from the space rock formula, adopting a much more progressive and pastoral feel to it and is in the main made up of acoustic instruments ... it's also fourteen minutes long.
Needless to say I was always going to love this record and without letting my personal preferences get in the way I'd suggest that it's a bit of a must for anyone with a slight interest in space rock and associated genres."
-- Stuart Smith, HiFi Pig, Aug 26, 2014
Make Believe It Real "With every Spirits Burning release, what is most noteworthy is the inclusive method of long-distance production and the vast number of musicians that are involved, whether one is into this type of space-rock or not. Every musician that plays on each track writes their own parts around a skeleton that acts as a seed for the piece, and thus becomes a collaborator in the composition. The parts are recorded in home studios all over the world, and then in the end game, all the various parts are sorted and sifted by master of ceremonies and production wizard Don Falcone. Falcone (synths, keyboards, accordion, bass, effects, electronic percussion) and singer, space whisperer and EWI player Bridget Wishart have a hand in every cut on this two disc set, while other players may feature on one or more or many pieces. Members and former members of Hawkwind / Hawklords are well represented (Alan Davey, Harvey Bainbridge, Dave Anderson, Richard Chadwick, Paul Hayles, Simon House, Dan Thompson, and others), Daevid Allen from Gong, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Keith The Bass from Here and Now, violinist Craig Fry from cartoon/PFS, Twink, guitarist Jay Tausig, guitarist Doug Erickson, and that only covers about half there are 37 collaborators total on this leg of the Spirits Burning journey. Eleven pieces of varying length make up the first disc, while a second, shorter disc of six cuts is labeled bonus tracks, including an excellent version of Roger Waters Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk from the first Floyd album. The fourteen minute, seven part Reflections that closes disc one is all over the map, but very unlike the rest, which pretty much stick to a space-rock vision that should be no surprise considering the resumes of many of the collaborators. As always with SB, theres a smorgasbord of great stuff here, even more with two discs of material, but it takes a few listens to set the controls and get familiar with it all."
-- Peter Thelen, Exposé, July 26, 2014
Make Believe It Real "This is not Hawkwind, but here is a list of the Hawkwind and ex-Hawkwind people on it ... Bridget Wishart, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Harvey Bainbridge, Dan Thompson, Simon House, Paul Hayles, Dave Anderson. Others include Steve Bemand, Keith Tha Bass (Here & Now), Jude Merryweather (Underground Zero). This is mainly a Bridget Wishart album with the Spirits Burning collective providing the music. A double CD with an eight page booklet jam packed with lyrics and information on the people on each track. As you might expect with this collaboration, the production is excellent and the sound smooth. I've been listening to it on headphones and enjoying the little details in the music. It's not Hawkwind, but it's still tasty"
-- Brian Tawn, Hawkfan 40, July 2014
Make Believe It Real "When it comes to Spirits Burning, they tackle the nebulous space rock going beyond imagination. Because whoever said "space rock" said, of course, Hawkwind, and whoever said "Hawkwind" spoke of the myriads of musicians who played in the band at various times. And with Spirits Burning, connections with Hawkwind are numerous and complex. This collective was formed in San Francisco in 1996 by a certain Don Falcone. This American musician and producer operates in obscure band formations such as Thessalonians, Melting Euphoria or Spaceship Eyes, alongside the Spirits Burning project, which was one of the first groups.
Falcone revived Spirits Burning as a long-term group, which has released a dozen albums from 1999, sometimes to a Stakhanovite cadence. A partial list includes "New Worlds By Design" (1999), "Reflections In A Radio Shower" (2001), "Alien Injection" (2008), "Golden Age Orchestra" (2009), "Behold The Action Man" (2011) or "Healthy Music In Large Doses" (2013). The feature of these albums was to always contact high-level space rock musicians, which, of course, includes former Hawkwind musicians, but also Gong and Steve Hillage.
This new CD "Make Believe It Real" does not break the tradition and it includes an impressive plethora of hippie cosmonauts, among those we must start with singer Bridget Wishart. She was, of course, part of Hawkwind (from 1989 to 1991, on the albums "Space Bandits," "Palace Springs" and "California Brainstorm"), but also had a career of collaboration with multiple groups, such as Mooch, Omenopus, Osiris The Rebirth, Spaceseed and The Chumley Warner Brothers. With Don Falcone, this isn't her first Spirits Burning album, since she has participated in four previous discs.
In terms of other musicians, the list that appears on the CD is breathtaking. There are nearly forty, some demigods of the profession: Daevid Allen (Gong), Dave Anderson (Hawkwind, Amon Düül II), Harvey Bainbridge (Hawkwind), Richard Chadwick (Hawkwind), Simon House (Hawkwind , High Tide, Robert Calvert), the inevitable Twink (Tomorrow, Pink Fairies, Pretty Things, Mick Farren and - Oh no! - Hawkwind). While there are more obscure musicians, the percentage of musicians who belonged to Hawkwind is almost as high as the proportion of Corsicans in the French customs.
All of this little world is attached to the album "Make Believe It Real", which takes place on two CDs with a CD of bonus tracks. There is a bit of everything here: bucolic progressive rock ("Make Believe") thick space-rock ("Revenant", "Demonkind"), techno trance ("Be Careful What You Wish", "Skyline Signal") and long folk litany ("Reflections"). The second disc maintains the gear in the stratosphere with the dance rock "Always (Spirited Away)," the Plutonian nonchalance of "No One Cries In Space" and "Iceflow" or psychedelic and Eastern violins of "Make Believe It Real." The last song "Chain Of Thought" ends with more than eight minutes of alternating electrical access with cosmic floating. Consistently on the album, the diaphanous and ethereal voice of Bridget Wishart breathes a dreamy and distant atmosphere, which in fact, succeeds equally to the moods here.
Aficionados of the galaxy of Hawkwind will find "Make Believe It Real" a new piece to place up on the big ship of space rock. Others can enjoy an interesting journey into the land of electrical stars and music of the hyper-dimension."
-- François Becquart, Music In Belgium, June 26, 2014 [translated from French]
Make Believe It Real "Make Believe It Real" is the 12th Spirits Burning album and the third to be credited to Spirits Burning and Bridget Wishart. Of course multiple participants are the spirit of Spirits Burning and "Make Believe It Real" includes 35 musicians in a variety of configurations. In addition to Bridget and ship commander Don Falcone we have members of the extended Hawkwind family Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Paul Hayles, Simon House, and Dan Thompson. Daevid Allen is present as usual, plus Twink, Keith the Bass (Here and Now), Jay Tausig, John Pack (Spaceseed), and more. This is also the first 2-CD Spirits Burning album. Disc 1 features 11 new compositions and disc 2 consists of remixes and songs that were previously only available on compilations.
Disc 1 opens strong with "Make Believe (It Acoustic)", a Folk-Prog song that is at times tribal, traditional, and Medieval. Cyber Spice has some tasty atmospheric gliss guitar that I assumed was Daevid but is in fact Nigel Mazlyn Jones. The guitar sounds great alongside the contrasting Trance dance beats. "Be Careful What You Wish" alternates between spacey dreamy song and heavy rave beats. And it all occurs at once too. I love hearing the mellow flute, synths and spoken word narrative alongside the pounding rhythms. Spirits Burning albums can always be counted on for bringing together wildly different elements in exciting ways. "Skyline Signal" is a spacey, slightly whimsical, oddly rhythmic song that reminds me a bit of King Crimsons "The Talking Drum." Embers consists of darkly intense, electro-dreamy and sometimes ethnic infused tribal Prog. I like the driving percussion ensemble accompanied by winding, searing guitar licks. We've got some killer Space Rock songs too, often veering deep into Hawkwind territory. Revenant and Demonkind feature Hawk styled Space Rock with chunky guitars and synths blazin'. And with Bridget on vocals it's back to "Palace Springs!" I like the Space-Prog of "Eternal Energy." "Spacerocknroll" is precisely that. And "Journey Past The Stars" is an easy-paced song with a deep space lyrical theme. Wrapping up disc 1 is the 14 minute "Reflections", which is unlike anything I recall having heard from Spirits Burning before. Piano, acoustic guitar and percussion are the primary instruments. And with Bridget's vocal style the whole thing sounds like a blend of stage production, Folk-Prog, Canterbury and Kurt Weill. Very interesting piece and very difficult to adequately describe.
Disc 2 has six songs, some of which are my favorites of the set. "Always (Spirited Away)" consists of Space-Prog and rock 'n' roll, which is sometimes heavy and sometimes atmospheric, with deep space synths and violin leads. Very cool. "No One Cries In Space" is a beautiful spacey, funky ambient-jazz instrumental. "Iceflow (Icetalk Mix)" starts off similar, being a dreamily lulling ambient-jazz song. But then halfway through, darkness descends as it evolves into quietly intense tribal Space-Prog. "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" is a cover of the old Pink Floyd tune, which Spirits Burning contributed to the "More Animals At The Gates Of Reason" Floyd tribute. "Make Believe It Real" is a Dub and tribal infused Space-Prog tune. And "Chain Of Thought" is a stylistic cauldron that closes this outstanding set. It kicks off with Space-Prog that spans from Metal edged high intensity to rhythmic rocking. Then around the halfway mark there's a quiet transitional bit before launching into a symphonic space rocker that's variously heavy-driving Goth metallic and floating trippy space. Definitely one of my favorites with lots of thematic twists and turns.
I've been following Spirits Burning since day 1, and though typically insistent on marveling at the catalog of releases as a body of work, I have to say that "Make Believe It Real" is a highlight.
-- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations, June 20, 2014
Make Believe It Real "Space rock band Spirits Burning invited vocalist/flutist Bridget Wishart to return for her third outing with the band. Spirits Burning includes members of the seventies rock band Hawkwind experimenting with their jazz fusion side. Bridget Wishart is a British vocalist who had worked with Hawkwind on some of their late-eighties, early nineties albums. Now the two return after five years to create some truly unique music with their latest release "Make Believe It Real," which is the band's first double-CD. Disc 1 features 11 new compositions as their music looks to move you with the electronic beats of "Cyber Space" and the deep bass groove of "Skyline Signal." The band brings back some of the rock from the past on the heavy attack of "Demonkind," before showcasing the pure ambient feel of Spirits Burning's music with "Embers." The first disc closes with the fourteen-minute epic suite "Reflections" as they dig deep into their progressive rock past. The second disc features six songs (30 minutes) of music that was only previously available on compilations. Beginning with "Always (Spirited Away)" you get a sense of their rock roots as they explore a more modern progressive rock sound. Spirits Burning along with the vocals of Bridget Wishart explore the depths of space rock with the synth/rhythm battle of "Iceflow (Icetalk Mix)." The second disc finishes with the King Crimson-like rock orchestra epic "Chain Of Thought."
-- James Pasinski, JP's Music Blog, June, 2014
Healthy Music In Large Doses
Make Believe It Real "Spirits Burning have always been about ensemble playing but this is really specialthe joining of Space Rock aficionado Don Falcone (Spirits Burning) and Cyrille Verdeaux (Clearlight Symphony) along with roughly 40 other space rock and prog musicians to create 13 compositions covering a multitude of musical styles and genres. Sometimes it's spacey trance, other times its more jazzy-fusion and sometimes there even some heavy experimental vibe going on. One minute it's kind of trance like and the next moment it's almost folky and ethereal. Then other times it's more adventurous pushing the musical envelope in a Soft Machine kind of way. You'll get a sense of some of the music when you see there are members of Thinking Plague, Cartoon, The Muffins, Gong and so on performing here in some fashion. It's kind of difficult to say the music sounds like any one thing because there are so many influences at work that end result is just so varied. If you are feeling a little adventurous looking to explore something different go to: http://www.spiritsburning.com/."
-- Jerry Lucky, The Progressive Rock Files, August 2013
Healthy Music In Large Doses "The album "Healthy Music In Large Doses" is the result of a project initiated by Don Falcone and Cyrille Verdeaux. Don Falcone hails from California, USA and is or was a member of the bands Astralfish, Fireclan, Melting Euphoria and Spirits Burning, amongst others. Cyrille Verdeaux is a keyboard player and a veteran in the French progressive rock and underground scene of the seventies. He's the founder member of Clearlight, a group that featured also members of Gong.
Gong is also the connection between these two musicians; both have collaborated with members of Gong. So it's not surprising that Daevid Allen plays guitar and sings on one track of the album. The list of people who contribute is quite impressive: Michael Clare (University Of Errors), Pete Pavli (High Tide), Adrian Shaw (Bevis Frond), Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind), several members of the Italian Universal Totem Orchestra , and many others.
With so many experienced musicians from different countries and with a different musical background, it's not strange that the music varies from new age and prog rock to jazz-rock with even a touch of Celtic folk. Only two tracks have vocals; all the others are instrumental. As the title already suggests the emphasis is on new age. It's a quiet and relaxed album with a great flow. However, with titles like "A Cool Can Of Cola On The Forehead" and "The Healing Power Of Magnets" it is new age with a wink of the eye. The music is very subtle filling the room without being dominant. Despite the contributions of so many people the music feels like a unity. Only the closing track featuring the vocals of Daevid Allen has a different feel. But hey, who doesn't want Healthy Music In Large Doses?"
-- Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen), Background Magazine, Aug, 2014
Healthy Music In Large Doses "What happens is that they have been given a platform improvisation - Players and synthetic - so combining experience and aesthetics to create new musical ground, freely, without mannerisms and restrictions following a - say - free jazz / avant garde approach, which result a colorful, dense prog-jazz-space-ethnic-fusion collage that leaves impressions varied from good to exceptional."
-- Laertis, Wild Thing, Oct, 2013 [Translated from Greek] 3 1/2 Stars
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Spirits Burning does a lot of varied material. That's particularly true when it's a collaboration with various other artists. This disc in particular leans along the lines of fusion at times. Its quite a good set that also has some hints of things like Kraftwerk at times.
Treasures at the Dawn of the Century - There's almost an electronic groove as this opens. Then it shifts towards some funky fusion territory. This is a killer jam that has a lot of intriguing melodies all packed into a real groove. There are bits here that make me think just a bit of Kraftwerk, but other bits that call to mind Al DiMeola and the percussion is quite world music like.
Raised On Coal and Oil - If the last tune had a lot of fusion in the mix, this one is thoroughly rooted in it. In fact, there is a lot of old school jazz here. Still, there is some prog rock and some world music encased within these borders, too. Violin is integral to this piece, but the piano work is certainly worth mentioning, too. There is some great synthesizer sound here, as well. It gets quite lush and leans towards space rock later in the piece.
Our Secret Cloud - This reminds me a lot of Enya's music. Its got a lot of world music in the mix. It also has waves of chant type singing. It's a lot more organic than the two openers. Its equally tasty and a nice change of pace.
Infinite City - World music meets jazz on this tune. There are some French spoken vocals and some killer horn playing. This is an awesome piece of music. After a time, it shifts out to a more pure fusion jam. There are a number of awesome shifts and changes in this thing. Its quite a diverse and growing piece. Somehow, with the spoken vocals, parts of this remind me of the band Halloween.
Hand Signals and Daily Horoscopes - Here we get an energized tune that combines fusion, progressive rock and more pure jazz. It's got some rather noisy moments, but also some killer soloing.
Cool Can of Cola On the Forehead - This is a playful jam. It has a lot of world music and a lot of fusion built into it. I like it a lot. Theres a killer melodic jam later thats understated, but very tasty. There are some hints of country at times later. There's also a jam further along that makes me think of Booker T a bit.
Healing Power of Magnets - On the one hand, this is a slow moving, somewhat atmospheric jam. That said, the soloing (and even some of the backing music) really rocks. It's kind of a cool contrast of sounds. The bass line is great and really works, but somehow sits in the background. At times Im reminded of early Pink Floyd on this thing. It does get some hints of world music and some other elements later as it moves towards more pure fusion.
Travellin' Sideways - This feels a bit more organic than some of the other music. Still, it's got both the retro keyboards and some space rock elements in place. This is a bit less dynamic than some of the other tunes, with the changes coming a lot slower and more gradually.
The Kingdom of Music - Keyboards open this one in fine fashion and the cut comes tentatively out from there. It doesn't really rise up far, but instead stays in the realm of almost atmospheric, but very dramatic, music. Eventually, though, more energy enters and this does rock out a bit.
In Search of Friends On the Day of Masks - Some of the guitar that wanders on in this cut reminds me of Steve Howe. There are some more mainstream mellower old school music here, but also some things that are weirder and more science fiction or space oriented.
Italian Lake - This starts with a bit of a world music vibe. As it continues that's tempered with something that feels a bit like classical along with some serious space music.
The Road to Shave Ice - Here's one that's pretty weird. Space music, atmosphere and world sounds merge into a rather bizarre, but still quite effective, piece of music. It drops to some very weird textural elements as it continues.
Bring It Down - Reggae mixed with space rock and jazz is the order of business as this opens. It's got some real vocals. It's a cool rocker. There is a bit of a Hawkwind vibe to it at times. Sort of like a cross between Hawkind and Bob Marley. There is some cool saxophone soloing on this thing later. It really does work out to a cool space rock jam as it continues."
-- G. W. Hill, Music Street Journal, Aug, 2013
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Healthy Music in Large Doses is the latest musical adventure from the team of Don Falcone and French songwriter, composer and keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux. The Spirits Burning Space Rock Collective brings together a "pluralistic combination of ambient, jazz, and space rock fusion of music" which will not only smooth out the day's knots and pains, but will take you off to a distance place out of the ordinary.
The album features over 35 musicians associated with classic and prog rock music, along with artists from many alternative genres. It is a huge amalgamation of many styles and directions in music with a central sound being a wonderful jazz/classical/rock fusion of elaborate instrumentals, with some vocal accompaniment.
Gong's Daevid Allen sings vocals and plays guitar on "Bring it Down". The disc also includes a guest list that will fill pages: Hawkwind family members Bridget Wishart, Adrian Shaw, Paul Hayles, & Andy Anderson (The Cure); Pete Pavli (High Tide); Fabio Golfetti (Gong); Robert Rich; plus members of Broun Fellinis, Cartoon, Flutatious, Jay Tausig, Manfred Mann's Chapter Three, Melodic Energy Commission, The Muffins, Thinking Plague, Universal Totem Orchestra, & many more.
Every track on this album is a different adventure to explore and sink your ears, head and state of consciousness into. The opening three tracks, "Treasures at the Dawn of the Century", with Verdeaux's pan flute, "Raised on Coal & Oil", with mellotron from Kenneth Magnusson and "Our Secret Cloud", with Anna Torres Fraile's beautiful vocal presence were especially well designed to not only set the tone for the rest of the production but also to draw you in like a fly to honey.
"Cool Can of Cola on the Forehead" is not only a genius track title; it possesses enough reggae funk back beat to kick the second half of the album into a danceable mix of euphoria.
"Healing Power of Magnets" continues that power with rich, deep keyboards and Jay Tausig's wonderful 12 string and lead guitar soloing.
"The Kingdom of Music" is another title and track which truly captures the global wealth of talent and styles that make up "Healthy Music in Large Doses."
"Bring it Down" has a wonderful reggae back beat which along with Daevid Allen's vocals will take you away to Jamaica while at the same time make you think about how we are using this gift we all live on. An interesting variation or at least inspiration from Peter Tosh's "Downpressor Man". There are no weak spots on this entire album. It is a wondrous soundscape to behold. Don Falcone, Cyrille Verdeaux and their vast array of keyboard and synthesizer talents are where the deep powerful sounds emanate. The entire supporting cast helps take this production over the top as one of the best representations of the evolution of space rock this year. Get some "Healthy Music in Large Doses" and put on some headphones to peel back the weight of the modern world."
-- Mark Johnson, Sea of Tranquility, August, 2013
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Healing Music between prog and electronics.
Such a thing recalls the Centipede: a squadron of musicians from all latitudes, experience, origins, physical and spiritual places in the solar system. Some names? Daevid Allen, Andy Anderson, Pete Pavli, Adrian Shaw, Paul Sears, Fabio Golfetti and scattered members of Universal Totem Orchestra, Thinking Plague, Hawkwind and various units from Planet Gong. The two directors, authors and coordinators of the powerful operation are Don Falcone - mastermind of Spirits Burning - and Cyrille Verdeaux, which every respectful prog fan recalls Clearlight.
"Healthy Music In Large Doses" is not just a title: it is a guide, a gift, a massive dose and healing space rock, a part linked to the tradition of spinning and button masters Hawkwind and Ozric, the other open to the infiltration of electronic and new age. The transnational collective proposes nothing particularly new, but ranges between the various souls of rock and cosmic visionary: aided by the contribution of forty musicians, "Healthy Music" must be polychromatic and heterogeneous. For example, simply juxtapose the jam-rock flavors of "Raised on Coal & Oil" to the severe and poignant exploits of magmatic UTO in "One Secret Cloud" to experience two faces - different but complimentary of the project; similar to the progressive Gongness of "Infinite City" to the relaxing jazz-rock of "In Search of Friends." Dispersive but addictive, frayed but relaxing, the disk is more than successful in its goal: to entrust us with ample doses of healing music. In these days, where there's little."
-- Donato Zoppo, MovimentiProg, August, 2013 [translated from Italiano]
Healthy Music In Large Doses "An excellent prescription.
Don Marino Falcone might, by name, sound like space-rock's answer to Tony Soprano (RIP), but invitations to contribute to his psychedelic progressive jazz collective Spirits Burning seem to be offers that more and more musicians of stature can't refuse.
This album is a particular coup, linking Falcone with Cyrille Verdeaux of 70s French prog-rock outfit Clearlight, alongside such luminaries as Falcone's long-time collaborators Daevid Allen and Bridget Wishart, of Gong and Hawkwind duties respectively. Bevis Frond bassist Adrian Shaw, High Tide's Pete Pavli, and former Cure drummer Andy Anderson also feature among the throng of contributors.
Their collaboration mirrors Clearlight in many ways; the ensemble approach has always been a Sprits Burning touchstone in any case, but this records instrumental focus, with only a scattering of vocal tracks, and its fusion vibe sees the two outfits harmonise. The results have a real deftness of touch: stylish, zippy and zesty, often possessive of a feel-good summer lightness that's highly appealing. Its accessibility makes it a useful jumping-on point to Falcone's work, which ranges from "proper" space-rock through progressive and into the industrial noise of his recordings with Grindlestone."
-- Ian Abrahams, Record Collector, Issue 417, August, 2013 [translated from British]
Healthy Music In Large Doses "A merry band of friends have come together to make a record in total freedom, outside of any defined genre. And when the gang counts among its ranks the likes of Don Falcone and Cyrille Verdeaux, primarily responsible for the project, along with people like Daevid Allen, the guru of melodic electronics Robert Rich and a large handful of musicians gravitating around bands like Gong, Hawkwind, High Tide, Cartoon, The Muffins, Thinking Plague, Universal Totem Orchestra, and spent in collaborations with the likes of Cure, Mike Oldfield, Peter Gabriel, Iggy Pop, Steve Hillage, Third Ear Band, East of Eden, Marianne Faithful, Manfred Mann, Graham Bond and others, all carefully listed in the booklet, the curiosity to find out what's inside the album is irresistible.
"Healthy Music In Large Doses" is an apt title that represents the intentions of the project, which in reality is not only a birth of the mind of the two components of Spirits Burning and Clearlight. The writing is in fact surprisingly mixed, with the writing always credited to a large group of artists. One has the impression that Falcone and Verdeaux are the main promoters of the fabric, which are then processed, expanded and reworked by other musicians, with a bizarre result that makes the variety and the mixture of genres a strong point.
The electronics dominates in "Treasures at the Turn of the Century" and "The Kingdom of Music" (with "our" G.C. Neri on guitars), while "Our Secret Cloud" is composed of sections that are now melodic acoustic, now electric, and now a strong ambient. "Infinite City" is more jazzy, "Travellin sideways" instead has a dreamy ballad performance, thanks to its melodic lines suspended indefinitely over the carpets of synth. "Healing Power of Magnets" has a Floydian mood taken directly from the "Dark Side of the Moon" period (reminiscent in some ways of "Any Colour You Like"), "The Road to Shave Ice" is a pure ambient-tribal exercise that does not have a melodic structure. Then there is rhythmic and sparkling energy and a closing song in electronic dub style, perfect to let escape the madness of Daevid Allen, who plays on one of the few vocal tracks on the album.
The music mix of "Healthy Music In Large Doses" makes it an album absolutely indefinable and hard to categorize in any label. It goes without too much trouble from electronic to progressive rock, in an amalgam that has an array of psychedelic background permeated by a considerable dose of insanity. The authors do not seem to have a problem avoiding looking for a common thread, and besides, the goal of the final product is probably just that you want to move the listener and push the listener to repeated and careful listening, aimed at finding specific instrumentals previously missed. Another key to understanding the work involves listening more relaxed, even distracted, in order to promote a greater abandonment that highlights not the details but the general attitude of the album, the purpose of which seems to provide a supportive musical energy, almost a charge of positive feelings for a stressed mind.
Given the lack of consistent musical form, I do not feel I can say with certainty that the method works. I suppose this depends on the approach reserved for each listen. The advice is to try, regardless of the outcome. If you do not manage to have benefits for your physical or spiritual health, at least there will be music."
-- Nicola Sulas, Arlequins, August, 2013 [translated from Italiano]
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Spirits Burning is an American space-rock band that's already amassed quite a number of albums to their name: (see iO38, iO71 and iO81 for previous reviews). On "Healthy Music In Large Doses" project works with a variety of well-known musicians such as Cyrille Verdeaux (Clearlight), Daevid Allen (Gong), Andy Anderson (The Cure) and ambient master Robert Rich. The result is a varied album that intertwines space-rock, rock, jazz and experimental music. The CD opens with "Treasures At The Dawn Of The Century" in pure space-rock spheres with electronic rhythms by Anderson, slow-hand guitar work of Doug Erickson, Rich on the modular synthesizer and Verdeaux on organ and synths. In "Raised On Coal And Oil" Verdeaux takes a spell on acoustic piano which is quite characteristic for him. The violin of Stella Ferguson is also an important role as to emphasize the classical spirit on "Our Secret Ground" and "Italian Lake." Also on the CD is Giuliano Beber who plays a beautiful guitar solo on the former number. On "Infinite City" Purjah (on saxophone) plays jazz music, but this tends to be, unfortunately, less charming. In "Hand Signals and Daily Horoscopes" the space-rock returns. Don Falcone and Verdeaux play piano together here. "Healing Power of Magnets" and "Travellin' Sideways" are also beautiful, symphonic pieces with Bridget Wishart on the EWI synthesizer. In "Kingdom Of Music" there is a mixture between electronica and accordion. After the experimental "The Road To Shave Ice," it is Daevid Allen's turn. In "Bring It Down" Allen sings and plays guitar in his own special way. Personally, I think this is the definitive song on "Healthy Music In Large Doses." Subject to a few exceptions, this is a special space-rock CD."
-- Paul Rijkens, i/o pages, Issue 115, June, 2013 [translated from Dutch]
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Well, this is an unexpected turn of events, even for someone like Don Falcone, who has built a whole career out of unlikely collaborations. Falcone first appeared on the mid-1990's U.S. spacerock scene playing keyboards with Melting Euphoria on 1994's Through The Strands Of Times, before moving on to a variety of projects, including Spaceship Eyes and Spirits Burning, who existed concurrently for a time in the late 1990's. The first official Spirits Burning album was 1999's New Worlds By Design, with subsequent releases including the co-credited Bridget Wishart projects Earth Born (2008) and Bloodlines (2009), and 2008's Michael Moorcock archive-trawl Alien Injection. With their most recent album being 2011's Behold The Action Man, a collaboration with sometime Hawkwind lyricist Roger Neville-Neil, Falcone must surely be one of the most well-connected pan-generational figures in spacerock, with work blending and crossing a multitude of styles. Clearlight, on the other hand is the vintage 1970's symphonic progressive rock project of Frenchman Cyrille Verdeaux, a truly gifted keyboard player, around whom congregated an ever-changing array of guest stars (including members of Gong), to release a run of mainly instrumental albums, starting with 1975's Clearlight Symphony. Verdeaux has continued to use the Clearlight name throughout the '80's and '90's, while also recording under his own name, to the extent that band and keyboard player have become virtually interchangable. The tragic death of his young son resulted in Verdeaux travelling to India, where he studied yoga and meditation, which strongly influenced his subsequent work on albums such as Ethnicolours, Messenger Of The Sun, Journey To Tantraland, and his most recent release, 2007's Shamballa A Journey To The Crystal World.
So much for the back-story. As can be expected then, Healthy Music In Large Doses is an eclectic album, which spans a number of genres. One thing to make clear at the onset is that, despite input from several one-time Hawkwind members, and Falcone's own space-rocking past, this is definitely not a full-on spacerock experience. Rather, the music on this mainly-instrumental album is rooted in jazz, folk, psychedelic pop and even reggae. The album opens with "Treasures At The Dawn Of The Century", a kind of world music piece featuring multiple synths, organ, flute and tabla. "Raised On Coal And Oil", strongly features the violin of Stella Fergusson, who appears able to reach notes of such height that only dogs can hear them, interweaving with Verdeauxs gentle piano arpeggios across seven minutes of floating and bass-driven jazz. "Our Secret Cloud" is a gentle, almost spiritual, piece which opens with chanted male/female vocals, moving into purely ambient territory, including what appears to be backward guitar, and closing with a reprised choral passage. Verdeaux provides spoken-word vocals in French over tenor and soprano sax-flavoured jazz on "Infinite City", while Falcone's percussion duties include marimba, sound eggs, finger cymbals, U.S. kitchen bell and Italian rattlesnake! Unusual percussion aside, this is truly prog rock at its most jazzy, bringing to mind latter day Soft Machine, or Bill Bruford's Earthworks. Cyndee Lee Rule's violin weaves its way through the Indian sitars and woodwinds of "Hand Signals & Daily Horoscopes", which contains a piano passage strongly evoking the original Clearlight Symphony. The standard of musicianship here is just jaw-dropping, while never being showy. "Cool Can Of Cola On The Forehead" (one of the few tracks on which Cyrille Verdeaux does not play) is funky reggae, perfectly evoking the image suggested by the title. "Healing Power Of Magnets" sounds so close to Pink Floyds classic "Breathe" that it is a wonder Gilmour and Waters are not given a co-writing credit; the music suggesting the same feeling of melting euphoria as Dark Side Floyd (and for which Falcone named his first band). Verdeaux again steps back on the dreamy synth-led "Travellin Sideways", while Falcone gets a credit for providing ocean and wind; additional synths are provided by Paul Hayles, who was briefly a Hawk and Sonic Assassin. "Kingdom Of Music" is another perfectly titled track, with fluttering arpeggios dancing on the wind. Michael Clare supplies dazzeling bass playing on the jazzy "In Search Of Friends On The Day Of Masks", with gliss guitars by Gong associate Fabio Golfetti, who provides more of the same on the brief shimmering sound picture that is "Italian Lake." "The Road To Shave Ice" is as baffling as its title would suggest, with Thom Evans (of Hawk associates Melodic Energy Commission) credited with "playing" wrench, umbrella and jaw harps, and Falcone contributing samples of ocean waves, Luau rhythms and chants, and gift shop instruments. Reggae-flavouring is sprinkled on album closer "Bring It Down", written and sung by Gong's Daevid Allen, and certainly sounding like it, with eco-warning lyrics "Telecommunication sits in castles made of sand" contrasting with the jolly melodies and tenor saxes of Purjah.
Healthy Music In Large Doses does pretty much what it says on the time, and sounds much like you would expect from a collaboration of minds that released Found In Nature and Clearlight Symphony. Spacerock it most certainly isn't, but seekers of a gentle yet funky uplifting panacea will find much to enjoy here, and in most generous doses too!"
-- Pat Albertson, Aural Innovations, May, 2013
Healthy Music In Large Doses "Spirits Burning is the ongoing project of Don Falcone and guests, many of whom appear regularly on most of the releases, including members and ex-members of various space rock bands far and wide, including Hawkwind, High Tide, Gong, The Moor, Universal Totem Orchestra, and many more (too many to enumerate here, it would take up the entire review) as well as members of other past and present bands and projects that Falcone has been involved with, offering wide variety of instrumentation. Clearlight is of course keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux, who contributes to nearly every track here. The way Spirits Burning works is that the music is passed around to the various participants (many over long distances) where each player contributes their parts, and then when all are done, Falcone edits and mixes the results into what finally gets released. There are a lot of cooks in this kitchen. The result is a potent blend of ideas from a large number of composers and players that can pretty much go anywhere, with elements of rock, jazz, psychedelic, symphonic prog, folk, and electronic music all surfacing at various times across the thirteen tracks presented here. This time out several of the tracks feature vocals and spoken parts (some in French, courtesy Verdeaux) and the overall program leans in more symphonic and jazzy directions than the heady psychedelia and space rock of some of the earlier Spirits Burning releases. The music has a high density factor, and although a casual listen on speakers will provide a good experience, only a close listen on quality headphones will reveal all the layers of sound and detail that have gone into each of these cuts. Much herein to recommend. "
-- Peter Thelan, Exposé, May 2013
Behold The Action Man
Behold The Action Man "During the recent decade and a half California-based Don Falcone is acting like a jack of all trades apparently, when it comes to making music - or even better to say organizing music in some way. I mean, just have a look at the particular line-up listed for those numerous albums he already has produced under the moniker SPIRITS BURNING - then you will know what I mean. Really awe-inspiring, isn't it? And I don't have any clue how he is able to manage this concretely - apart from having a busy email account ... and a Red Telephone maybe.
Okay, it's quite obvious that this collection - consisting of 16 songs in total - is not, at least not solely, resulting from common recording sessions somewhere in a studio. That means, also tapes and a bunch of digital snippets must have gone back and forth, predominantly between the US and UK I assume, until the final mix was ready to go at some point. So concerning this procedure explicitly - at least at the very start - he quite rightly can be deemed as a pioneer. Well, this is my first SPIRITS BURNING attempt, which is announced as a 'Space Rock Journey Into Film Noir'. Stand and deliver! So what is it now? The art work is certainly corresponding, while being faced with the Action Man aka Roger Neville-Neil on the front, a cool figure in trench coat and fedora.
Cast shadows behind a curtain and diverse other hints are pointing to a dangerous and somewhat criminal affair which is going on here (though given with sense of humour, taken for granted, just in order to defuse the situation a little). Hawkwind companion Neville-Neil is responsible for the story and appears as the co-producer here. Furthermore, most of the songs are worked out in collaboration with Daevid Allen, who frequently is guesting at Don's homebase. This surprisingly sounds really organic, when considering the modus operandi. The song collection represents a wonderous mixed bag of ideas and impressions in general, summarized by a cinematic note overall.
Fine - SPIRITS BURNING have a really promising start with Rendezvous At Lava Lounge - this is an excellent prog drenched space rock tune, featuring flute, the beloved Mellotron and Gitta MacKay on vocals reprising the album motto like a mantra. The following Stand And Deliver shows a styling which already is closer to Hawkwind, I'm speaking of the vocal attitude as well as the straightforward garage rock beat. Though presented with a way of expression, which comes a bit lighter in general. Thematically this is dealing with some figures of serious crime, for example bank robber John Dillinger, hijacker D.B. Cooper or pirate Bold Black Bart.
Not every song makes it to a blockbuster, the more garage rocking impressions sometimes sound repetitive for example. In order to mention other outstanding pieces, let me continue with Outcast which shows some ethno/krautrock leanings due to didgeridoo and the hypnotic flow. The dark melancholic HypnoSpy comes David Sylvian inspired where the grooving instrumental Hemlock On The Rocks expresses a happy optimistic flavour. 'You are nothing more than a hired voyeur' ... Obelisk Of Fondue represents a rather weird snippet with Daevid Allen on vocals.
You see, there's a lot to explore on this occasion - hereby 'Behold The Action Man', released on Gonzo Multimedia, features some familiar hints from Gong, Hawkwind, Here & Now, Secret Saucer aso. Spacey synths everywhere you are, variating vocals also including Bridget Wishart and Don himself, violin arrangements coming from Cyndee Lee Rule ... eh, although deserved, I don't know if it is helpful to name all the contributors here. In any case there's a lot of competence brought together by Don Falcone, and the result is a rather interesting album overall."
Rivertree, Progarchives reviews, June 7, 2014
Behold The Action Man "Even for a Spirits Burning album, this is what you'd call "varied." Normally, there's some kind of link running through it all, musically, even if that link is split into two or areas, but here you have 16 tracks (count 'em!!) played by 16 completely different line-ups, the link being the guys that pop up track after track, the real link being mastermind Don Falcone and his vision of what direction a lot of this should go in and the musical link being a kind of mix of psychedelia, cosmic prog and world music space-rock of the Calvert-era Hawkwind variety.
Soooooo.........the album opens with an instrumental in which we here jungle flutes and rhythms, haunting guitar refrains, mellotron forays for extra texture, rattling percussion and drums, cascading guitar tones, wordless female vocal sounding scarily like singer extraordinaire Electra from Dead Easy, as the track takes up a head of steam, gathers its guitar riffs, pounding bass and lurching beats, tops it off with mallet -percussion, and it all settles into this kind of seventies Krautrock-meets-world music vein that's simply astounding. "Stand And Deliver" is the first song, and quite a surge of Calvert-esque down-to-earth space-rock with a multi-harmony hook, surging guitar riffs, choppy rhythms, throbbing bass and the flowing vocals delivering the song with conviction. "The Real Time" thumps even harder with searing guitar and a sea of violins, and another song that starts off a bit like "Quark, Strangeness And Charm" but then sails or strides off in a completely more propulsive direction. "Internal Detective" is a four minute instrumental that, despite its line-up of synths, mellotron, electric and acoustic guitars, bass and drums, manages to be anything but prog, or even psych, instead turning into this snake of a track, twisting, turning, sliding and slithering through a myriad of soundscapes, rhythms and leads that never go where you expect.
"Strafed By A UFO" bounces into life with biting guitar riffs, surging rhythms, background textures and lurching beats as the lead vocals kick in and the song drives forward, space synths swooping all over the place as this surging slice of neo space-rock takes you off to another space, the guitars charting the main instrumental path, again very much like Calvert-era Hawks. "Outcast" is notable for being nearly five minutes of songwriting played by Gong's Daevid Allen, ex-Hawks Alan Davey and Bridget Wishart, plus main man Don Falcone, but, as you might expect, it's unexpected. Here, the track has a really eerie feel to it with curiously menacing intoned vocals from Wishart over the lurching stomp of electro-percussive rhythms, guitars that stutter and sound like sitars plus booming bass that strengthens the bounce of the rhythms, with more electronic layers shimmering and filling the voids as the menace of mood continues. "Hypnospy" is a near 5 minute instrumental that's largely played by the Melodic Energy Commission guys and ends up sounding like a darker, more proggy version of something you might have found on the more unorthodox parts of classic Jade Warrior albums.
The three and a half minute "Crank Up The Vibes" features the wonderful world of Daevid Allen's glissando guitar allied to Cyndee Lee Rule's violin. Bridget Wishart's clarinet and propelled by the electronic bass rhythms from Falcone, surrounded by textural layers for maximum horizon-spanning effect, and yet it all comes across as quite strong while at the same time powerfully beautiful.
"The Train" starts off with a sea of rifs and rhythms and melodies that would be more at home on an early Eno album as the most fantastic vocals from Tracy Lee Williams take the song into a spellbinding dimension, as the rhythms drive forward, there's a memorable chorus, the arrangement is kept simple but expansive, the guitars strum and stutter, the synths soar all around, there's a red hot guitar break and the vocals sail to the heavens, on what is a truly stunning song that I kept playing and playing could do with a whole album of this!!!
"Hemlock On The Rocks" is another instrumental driven by train-like rhythms on top of which the assorted guitars, electronics and synth provide a multi-layered, solid wall of variety as the whole thing surges forward to perfection, the rhythms being not only the propulsive force, not only the glue that holds it all together but actually, the stars of the piece superb!! "Every Space Opera" sort of swings along strongly with a husky female vocal that's solo and multi-tracked as the composition starts to expand, the vocals both warm yet solid, full of retrained tension and silent darkness, as the instrumental refrain occupies a place in your head and refuses to let go, the whole thing just bouncing along with an eerie sense of emotional intensity, as the guitars threaten to rise up, but are held in check, only for Wishart's EWI synth to take the instrumental reigns albeit briefly towards the end of the track. The three minute "Obelisk of Fondue" is sung by Daevid Allen and is a typically eccentric spoken-word piece set to the music from Alan Davey on bass guitar synth, Falcone on electronic and percussive beats plus Paul Hayles on synths.
"Astral Flight Gassed" is a slice of rock-jazz given a darker feel thanks to some searing riffs over the jazzy rhythms, topped by the whispered menace of Wishart's vocals taking it into a whole new universe, as the track glides and strides on an array of instruments that somehow manage to coalesce rather than create chaos. "This Mark You Make" is a natural follow-on from the previous track, occupying a similar space, groove and biting texture, only this time a menacing male vocal replacing the female one. "Pieces Des Innocents Noir" is cosmic world music for just under three minutes, with flutes, bass, electronics and spacey synths. The album ends on "Underworld Messiah", an instrumental that starts out at mid-pace, rises slowly, becomes a mix of cosmic, progressive, space and jazz, filled with seriously languid melodies and stretched out horizons of sound from Kenneth Magnusson's mellotron, Rule's violins, Falcone's synths, and the slowly lurching rhythmic icebergs running underneath, all making for a superbly anthemic, slowly flowing finale to what's been a thoroughly engaging, largely instrumental album."
-- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May, 2012
Behold The Action Man "Have I stumbled across a missing Hawkwind album? This is very much an album that is sonically in the vein of Quark Strangeness And Charm. Composer and producer Don Falcone has overseen a collective of over thirty musicians, which includes such artists as ex BOC's Albert Bouchard, Gong's Daevid Allen, ex Hawkwind Alan Davey and Bridget Wishart, a collective which in turn has been named Spirits Burning and the end product is Behold The Action Man."
-- John O'Boyle, DPRP, February, 2012
Behold The Action Man "Behold the Action Man is the ninth actual album by international band project called Spirits Burning. This time the space rock collective dives into the world of Film Noir with Roger Neville-Neil's surrealistic detective character the Action Man. We have been able to read the Action Man series for years on the pages of Aural Innovations, and Neville-Neil has also written lyrics for Hawkwind and Farflung. Other writers for this album are Spirits Burning leader Don Falcone and ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget Wishart. As usual, also other old members of the Hawkwind family are included (Alan Davey, Paul Hayles) as well as members from bands like Jefferson Starship, Blue Oyster Cult, Melodic Energy Commission, The Starfighters, The Moor etc. And don't worry: of course the steady member Daevid Allen (Gong, University of Errors etc.) is on-board again as well! All in all, about 30 people have been part of the album process.
When Don told me about this album project a few years ago already (yes, he always seems to have several Spirits Burning projects under way simultaneously) I somehow got the picture that the end result would be smoky jazz or something like that, but this doesn't really differ that much from the other Spirits Burning albums. Sure, there is a nice amount of the feel of the old black and white moves but it's all put through a psychedelic, experimental and progressive filter and I like it that way!
The 72-minute-long album includes 16 tracks. Mellotron gives its own special tone for the opener "Rendezvous at Lava Lounge" and "Stand and Deliver" sung by Kev Ellis is rather straight-forward, old-school rock. The next piece "The Real Time" has a more electronic pulse but also some violin, for example. "Internal Detective" is a bit more relaxed instrumental and the highly effective "Straded by an UFO" real good space rock. "Outcast" sung by Bridget is again more electronic stuff and "HypnoSpy" peaceful, instrumental sound tapestry. The soft "Crank Up the Vibes" offers for example some glissando guitar by Daevid Allen. Allen is also featured on the following track "The Train" that sounds a bit like late 70's Hawkwind and also on the next, hypnotic and psychedelic instrumental "Hemlock on the Rocks." "Every Space Opera" has some of that smoky, early last century nightclub atmosphere I was expecting and the horns are definitely helping on this. Daevid Allen's very familiar voice can be heard on the wacky "Obelisk of Fondue" and Bridget is back on charge on the little bit faster piece "Astral Flight Gassed" that gets pretty weird before its minimal ending. The track "This Mark You Make" instructs you to aim carefully to avoid stray bullets accompanied by for example Falcone's carnival organ and Allen's freak guitar and the shorter "Pieces de Innocents Noir" takes us into Marrakesh (or is it Casablanca?) of some parallel universe. The disc is finished off with the Mellotron-and-violin filled, laid-back and cosmic "Underworld Messiah." Yet another excellent, atmospheric and varied Spirits Burning release!"
-- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, Novemeber 15, 2011
Behold The Action Man "For over a decade a loose-knit collective of musicians marshalled by US composer and cosmic prog enthusiast Don Falcone have released a plethora of albums, some paying an obvious homage to classic Hawkwind and Gong, others exploring the more obscure dimensions of the spacerock cosmos. On this latest album, collaborators include Gong supremo Daevid Allen, ex-Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard, ex-Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey and regular collaborator vocalist Bridget Wishart.
The inspiration this time is film noir, the result is a hardboiled hallucinogenic soundtrack, a trippy noisescape where Humphrey Bogart encounters Dr Timothy Leary somewhere between 50s LA and Byfrost the rainbow bridge. With lyrics by Roger Neville-Neil - a Robert Calvert inspired Hawks fan who co-wrote songs for Hawkwind's heavy 80s incarnation - the overall feel of the album channels late 70s Hawkwind albums like Quark, Strangeness And Charm. Songs like Strafed By A UFO, HypnoSpy and The Train evoke burned-out apocalyptic dead cities rather than the free form astral travels of previous works. And very fine it is too.
The spacerock underground continues to expand like the universe itself and Don Falcone, with several other projects on the go simultaneously, is one of the principal catalysts that fuels this great expansion."
-- Tommy Udo, Classic Rock Presents Prog, October, 2011
Behold The Action Man "OVER 30 musicians came together as part of a musical collective overseen by composer/producer Don Falcone to create and record this album. In the past, Spirits Burning has utilised leading musicians from the jazz, progressive rock and space rock genres to celebrate their respective fields. This, their tenth album, is described as 'A Space Rock journey into Film Noir', and contains 16 tracks.
The line-up features such luminaries as Daevid Allen (Gong), Albert Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult) and members of Jefferson Starship.
Much of the lyric-writing was done by Roger Neville-Neil, known to Hawkwind fans as the lyricist of such tracks as Needle Gun and Heads amongst others. Tracks such as HypnoSpy, Internal Detective and Underworld Messiah are genuine highlights amid an album which sums up the Space Rock sound.
Many will find it hard to grasp, but fans of that particular genre will love it."
-- Martin Hutchinson , The Bolton News, September 19, 2011
Behold The Action Man "I've never been a fan of Spirits Burning, I find Don Falcone's previous productions uneven and disjointed until Behold the Action Man, his latest offering. Around a storyline inspired by film noir, this CD features 16 tracks forming a cohesive space rock album with lots of character, and where the guests - there's a slew of them - are tastefully used. Gong's Daevid Allen is pivotal throughout, but there are also members of University of Errors, Hawkwind, Cartoon, Jefferson Starship, and Quarkspace, plus violinist Cyndee Lee Rule. Trippy instrumentals and rather strong songs (Bridget Wishart pulls off her parts), and an ensemble sound that sounds like an ensemble - a huge plus compared to previous works."
-- Monsieur Delire, Reviews, September 6, 2011
Behold The Action Man "Like much of Spirits Burning's output, this is a grower. As usual, various ex-Hawks, friends and friends of friends are to be found among the collective's extended line-up: Bridget Wishart, Roger Neville-Neil, Jaime Cortinas (Starfighters), Alan Davey, Kev Ellis, Paul Hayles. However (and also as usual), the ex-Hawks aren't there to do anything that sounds like Hawkwind.
The opening quartet of tracks is as good as anything on any of the SB albums that I've heard, music that is at once dark and claustrophobic, channelling 1950s cold war paranoia, late 60s psychedelia and the curdling of the hippie dream, and late 70s punk nihilism. It is as direct and confrontational as anything they have done. "Rendezvous at Lava Lounge" channels early Pink Floyd as it builds up the atmosphere - and mid-period Floyd in the mainly wordless females vocals. "Stand and Deliver" is already familiar from the Allies and Clansmen compilation, Kev Ellis' yobbish lead vocals overlaid on a hard rocking backing track, more Pink Fairies than Pink Floyd. It would be nice to hear this one with the guitars higher up in the mix. "The Real Time" is dark, angst-ridden psychedelia with the best chorus on the album; the vocals have a slightly hysterical and melodramatic feel reminiscent of Michael Moorcock's Deep Fix. "Internal Detective" is an edgy instrumental, discordant guitars over smooth strings.
With 16 tracks totalling 70 minutes, this CD is not easy to digest in one sitting. However, programming out the least interesting tracks certainly improves it and almost all of it bears repeated listening."
-- Starfarer, Starfarer.net, Solowerks #32, September 2011
Behold The Action Man "Behold The Action Man is the tenth Spirits Burning album. Headed up by Don Falcone, the Spirits Burning project brings together contributions from a globe spanning collective of musicians to create music that covers all possible points on the Space-Progressive Rock axis.
Behold The Action Man is for me a special Spirits Burning release and one that I've been waiting on for a few years. The back of the CD describes it as A Space Rock journey into Film Noir investigated by Don Falcone & Roger Neville-Neil (and all the other contributors). Roger Neville-Neil will be known to hardcore Hawkwind fans as the lyricist to the songs Needle Gun, The War I Survived and Heads, and he has also penned lyrics for Farflung. He is also the author of the Tales Of The Action Man series in Aural Innovations. Roger's Action Man "reports" are, at their core, concert reviews. But believe me when I say you have never read gig reviews like these before. Roger attends the shows as the Action Man. Gumshoe detective P.I. he is an eagle eyed observer of his surroundings. Written in film noir style, the band performances are only one element of the stories. Roger observes and interacts with audience members, and the resulting reports of concerts by Motorhead, Blue Oyster Cult, Helios Creed, King Black Acid, The Warlocks, and a variety of local Portland, Oregon bands are presented in a style that I have to believe is unique to the world of concert reporting.
So I've known about this project for some time and am thrilled about Roger's collaboration with Don Falcone (the two first met at the Strange Daze 1999 Space Rock Festival in Ohio). Like all Spirits Burning albums, this one has a diverse cast of contributors, including Daevid Allen, Dave Adams (Osiris the Rebirth, Assassins of Silence), Albert Bouchard, Alan Davey, Kev Ellis (Dr Brown, Bubbledubble, Trev & Kev), Cyndee Lee Rule, Bridget Wishart, the members of Melodic Energy Commission, and many more.
Among the highlights on this 16 track album are Rendevous At Lava Lounge, a jazzy instrumental with classic prog mellotron and tribal drumming. Stand And Deliver is a cool rocker with vocals by Kev Ellis and Bridget Wishart. Listen close to hear Daevid Allen's killer ripping guitar leads. Don's vocals sound mightily similar to Robert Calvert on The Real Time. If you like Prog rock that swings, then you'll like Internal Detective. If Behold The Action Man were made into a movie, this would definitely be the theme song. Strafed By A UFO is one of the great Space-Rock Noir tracks of the set. HypnoSpy is a quietly spaced out instrumental, and Randy Raine-Reusch's Chinese Zither injects a cool oriental theme into the music. The Train is an excellent heavy rocker, augmented by spaced out synths and Cyndee Lee Rule's violin. Hemlock On The Rocks is like the Peter Gunn theme in space. Obelisk Of Fondue is a whimsical, fun song that I enjoyed, with lead vocals by Daevid Allen. Another favorite is This Mark You Make, with its nifty organ and tripped out guitar combo. Daevid goes into space on his "squeal" guitar. And Underworld Messiah is the drugged, droning, spaced out finale, with Cindy Lee Rule's Viper violin leading the way with a slowly singing melody. There seems to be no limit to the ideas Don can bring to the table, which for me keeps the Spirits Burning project continually fresh and exciting."
-- Spaceman33, Aural Innovations, #41, October 2010
Behold The Action Man "I'm a big fan of Spirits Burning, having reviewed this space rock collective's work for R2 and for Record Collector, and having interviewed Don a few years back for Colossus magazine, and Don's again assembled an impressive line-up of collaborators to realise this album. From Hawkwind, SB regular Bridget Wishart along with Alan Davey and Paul Hayles, Nik Turner collaborator Paul Fox, Dr Brown's Kev Ellis, Jefferson Starship's Trey Sabatelli, Daevid Allen, the ever-welcome viper violinist Cyndee Lee Rule, and Don Xaliman from Melodic Energy Commission amongst others. I do think that the prolific outpouring of the Spirits Burning concept is both one of its strengths there's a significant regular outpouring from this ensemble and a diversity of writing credits that gives it a wide-ranging outlook and sound but also something of a downside as well. And that's sort of how I feel about Behold The Action Man on initial listening there's a lot of it, sixteen tracks in all and it's just something of the 'less could be more' feeling about it. I'm nine tracks in and listening to a really motivating, strum-along rocker called 'The Train', for the second time this month a track that I'm immediately going 'Black Rebel Motorcycle Club' about, one where Don has written lyrics and the music, and its bloody fabulous. On the other hand, I've got to track nine liking what's come before without really sitting up and being thrilled.
I've enjoyed 'Stand And Deliver', lyrics by Bridget and Roger and vocals from Kev Ellis, one that could work really well if ever there's an on-stage coming together of Spirits Burning instead of their across-the-ether modus operandi. I liked 'Straffed By A UFO', which sounds like a Dave Brock solo album track but with a Calvert vocal (provided by Don) and I was engaged with the instrumental 'Crank Up The Vibes', which actually doesn't do what it says on the tin but is more of a mid-album downward change of pace, ready for the tracks to pick up the heat again with 'The Train'.
A complete change of vibe is 'Every Space Opera' which has a bit of a torch song feel to it, accentuated by Catherine Foreman's sultry vocals and Bridge's EWI playing which the liners note as producing Clarinet, Bassoon and French Horn; a lovely piece all told. On the other hand, Roger's private-eye ruminations on 'Obelisk of Fondue' are lost to Daevid Allen's wilfully eccentric reading of the lyrics on the album's only real misfire and I just thought that any point to this one was completely lost in translation. Then again, 'Astral Flight Gassed' has a delightfully '60s/Gerry Anderson opening sequence feel to its music even if the lyrics become a tad 'arch' at times and the play-out 'Underworld Messiah' is a moody, atmospheric, triumph.
To take it as a whole then, as always some very good stuff but it's a little bit muddled, as though there is an interesting concept trying to come through but one that's been sidetracked out of cohesiveness in a way, lost sight of perhaps, so that we are not really 'Beholding the Action Man' but seeing glimpses of him through a haze of other ideas. It's a good record, but it could have been more focused. Look out for it this summer though there's a lot of very decent material here."
-- Ian Abrahams, Spacerock Reviews, June 2010
Allies and Clansmen compilation
Spirits Burning "Spirits Burning's "Stand and Deliver" is not a cover of the Adam Ant song, but a brooding rocker not unlike The Mission used to do, with a great catchy chorus and a powerful guitar solo."
-- Gary Parsons, Freq, Apr 14, 2011
Crazy Fluid "I'm not sure if this was intentional, subliminal or something that evolved out of the project almost organically, but there's a theme that runs through the whole album which is "free-form melodic psychedelic fusion complexity" - phew!! It's an instrumental album that has so much going on, goes in so many different directions and does very little by the rule book, that you need about three listens just to get the hang of it."
Take the seven minute opener, "Holy Water And The Sea Movers" for example starts with textural electronic drones and twangy bass over lurching drumming with a sort of oboe-like melody running underneath as the drums crunch and a searing guitar break comes in but instead of heading where you think it will go, the guitar abruptly ceases, the composition takes a right turn and suddenly we're in an amorphous sea of sonic headiness with dissonant layers, seemingly atonal undercurrents, the melody trying to surface as the guitar returns but even that gets buried before the whole thing stops again and we're into a kind of orchestral-sounding cosmos that's really mind-bending in its mix of atonality, texture and melody. Then, out of the morass, emerges this mermaid of a vocal, wordless and beautiful, a siren calling you in, as deep chords resonate. Then, with a wake-up crunch, in come the drums, and this mix of rolling jazz piano, punctuated sax stabs, a delicious undercurrent of mellotron and all manner of weaving melodies, all threaten to get out of hand before with a roll of drumming, the sax takes over, the guitar returns for a superheated solo and the whole thing drives ahead, still managing to make you think it's about to career off the rails at any minute, something it avoids by putting on the brakes, decelerating then fading to nothing on a drone of weirdness like I say, that's just the first track!!! The next one, the 10 minute My Caspian Sea Monster - starts with twangy pounding bass and native drumming, overlays whining guitar, cymbal splashes and bass drones before the clanging monster suddenly accelerates, swirls and drives as the instruments crash into each other like some otherworldly world music-orchestral madness and the tumbling seems to go on and on as fall down with it, wondering when you're going to hit the bottom, wondering if the bottom is even there, as violin drums, bass and percussion all come precariously to a grinding halt. Then, as if they didn't know when to stop, the chaos of instrumental craziness rises once more as the violin leads the way amid boinging bass, crunching drums, crashing cymbals and a sense of musical adventure that would please the most eager of avant-garde jazzers, as the whole thing just "exists", free of structure, rhythm, melody and tune, weaving all over the place like a clutch of headless chickens but, and this is the even crazier bit, it's absolutely riveting, as you hang around with wrapt attention, just to see where all this is leading and the violin carries on its never ending meandering musical journey down the blindest of alleys. Bizarrely, it actually doesn't go anywhere else it stays true to its ethos and simply fades into a river of bass and drones.
Then you move into the 9 minute "Slicing Through The Unknown Plantagenets", beginning with a river of organ as atonal acoustic guitars and bass enter the fray, drums roll in the distance, the sax enters, the organ provides both stabs and melody so that you're now in a world where melody and avant-garde are co-existing on a somewhat uneven boxing ring, leaving you wondering who's going to come out the winner. The melodies do their best as some superb layers of guitars, keys, rolling drums, deep bass and that organ, all serve to provide an almost soothing calm to the proceedings and you're really pleased it's going in this direction. Then it stops but almost immediately you're plunged into a darker world where the bass hangs overhead, the sax is seriously deep, the violin re-emerges or you think it has coz it seems to disappear while the rhythms lurch and drive, as jazzy tumble and melodic acoustic guitar combine to provide a piece that's as goregeously delicate as it it mind-bendingly complex. Then, totally unexpected, in comes this biting rock guitar lead, the drumming falls over itself once more and we're back in the land of crazy as the instruments embark on a free-form brawl to see who's going to win the fight in anyone else's hands, this would be utter madness, but you do get the distinct impression that leader and chief conspirator, Don Falcone, knows exactly where he wants all this to go and that's why I am and you are still absolutely wrapt in its attention. It does eventually head out into the open on a more melodic trip with deep sax, melodic piano and percussion, needing without the percussion on a weird sea of sound.
Next track is a couple of minutes of heated guitar, dirty sax and resonant bass that adds drums, synths and becomes huge, loud and stunning before fading away, almost segueing into the 6 and a half minute "Caravelle" which starts very "rock orchestral" but in a world without rhythm as the layers slowly dissipate to leave a kind of krautrock phasing effect over which fx ripple as this rhythm emerges from bass, keys and primarily sax and suddenly it's like being plunged into the first Lard Free album, the effect being just stunning as the saxes take the lead over the most distant of undercurrents, and it's wondrous stuff. The theme then evolves into a an altogether darker world of hazy electric guitar, deep bass, deep mournful sax all of which then slides into a fog of cosmic dissonance that's really spacey in a seriously dark manner, ending rather neatly on ringing guitar notes and deep sax.
Thereafter, you move to the near 11 minute "Pinball Symphonics" where, despite the fact that a lot of it is what you might call "controlled chaos", the atmosphere that pervades its extraordinary musical complexity, is what keeps you hooked, so that, despite the fact that you're listening to an army of percussive, bass, electronic, string and wind instruments fighting on some parallel universe battlefield, it remains riveting. Then you find out why you've made this journey as a huge searing guitar lead scythes in, the rhythms stomp and drive, this molten guitar riff sets up and the whole track becomes this juggernaut of movement only to stop in its tracks as the guitar weaves, a ghostly voice emerges, the rhythms clatter and crash, and out of all that emerges a mellotron choir, crashing percussion, rumbling underwater electronics, orchestral-like textures as it refuses to stay still and evolves once more into twangy, deep bass and nothing else, that then leading into a flute melody, echoed fx and gradually the orchestra returns to take you back into that world of structure-less bliss only this time the whole lot act as one and the effect is mind-blowing. This is crazy but it works. The 6 minute "Martian Crystals" strips everything back and a quintet of guitars, synths, bass, drums and fx gives us a truly awesome slice of modern Krautrock as Can-like rhythms stride out, the backdrop is pure Irmin Schmidt and the searing guitar leads pure Karoli. All that, together with breathy female vocals from Wishart and an added sense of melody from Falcone's keys, give us the most "normal" track on the album so far and it's genius. The 5 minute "Liquid Clocks" decelerates the proceedings but carries on where it largely left off, this time giving us a slab of late night sax allied to sizzling brass-like backdrops, slowly crunching rhythms and an ocean of instrumentation that's kept on the spacey side of town as the sax keeps us on the sleazy side of town, the mix of the styles, textures, rhythms and melodies, again, as good as it gets to "normal" and another unexpected treat.
The near 8 minute "Fondue Fuels" starts with galloping rhythms, squealing brass, driving riffing, crunching drumming, wah wah guitar, repeated riffs, searing heat guitar twang that's more Fripp than anything, as the whole sound gathers strength and becomes this absolute tornado of a piece, a crazy mix of Krautrock, post-rock and psychedelic fusion that just crushes everything in its path. The album ends with the 10 and a half minute, 4-part "The Book Of Luana" and starts out with a song yes, a song! - featuring blissful harmonies that sounds more like an early seventies Wishbone Ash song, but with an arrangement that mixes jazzy sax, mid-paced, solid rhythms, melodic undercurrents, piano and guitars and the feel is very seventies as the sax solos with fluidity, briefly, and the song continues. Then, with a burst of Tim Blake-esque space synths, it all changes shape, and we're into fast-driving rhythms, cascading guitars, tasty lead and harmony vocals, more guitar layers and melodies, all delivering this uptempo song that's got Gong's Daevid Allen on vocals and could well be old style Gong in a modern indie setting, a combination that works superbly. The pace decelerates into a slow Allen-sung slice of acoustic delicacy that could easily have fitted on one of his classic solo albums and so it ends. Essentially, an album of two halves the challenging yet engaging first half that, if you pull through, takes you to the absolutely sensational second half, rewarding you for your efforts with four absolutely amazing tracks. But the whole thing is spectacular of that, there is no arguing."
-- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Crazy Fluid "The cast of performers is again very vast and international, although mainly American. The album begins in a very psychedelic style with "Holy Water and the Sea Movers" and Cyndee Lee Rule's violin gives it some exquisite tones. Daevid Allen plays the guitar on the following, pretty exciting number "My Caspian Sea Monster", and this over 10-minute-long track goes to orgiastic free jazz occasionally. This is very experimental stuff and my wife told me to stop the CD at this point "Slicing Through the Unknown Plantagents" continues in an even jazzier mode but this time with more laid-back and cosmic vibes. Great going! The quite experimental "I Don't Want to Grow Up and Be a Scent Dealer Like You" is a two-minute piece somewhere in between King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Pharaoh Sanders, "Caravelle" a rather peaceful but psychedelic and weird track that seems to have influences of classical music, avant-garde, folk music as well as jazz. The album's lengthiest track is the almost 11-minute-long "Pinball Symphonics (An Ancient Psychedelic Performance @ the Tail End of Your Youth)" that is a very experimental and lysergic sound collage. Then some more "normal" stuff: "Martian Crystals" is an excellent, mystical and dark number that also includes some vocals by ex-Hawkwind Bridget Wishart. "Liquid Clocks" is a very pleasant, jazzy and softly swinging track that has for example saxophone and is one of my favorites. The fast "Fondue Fuels" rocks surprisingly snottily and hard. This piece perks things up a lot and sort of reminds me of Steven Wilson's I.E.M. project. The album is finished with 70's prog styled, long, four-part "The Book of Luana" that also includes lots of vocals mainly by Daevid Allen. So the track naturally has Moog, Mellotron, flute, organ etc. I'm reminded of at least Gentle Giant, Yes, Camel, Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator and naturally Gong which should give you an idea of what's going on. This is another very successful Spirits Burning release and somehow Don and the guys have yet again been able to get together a very unique whole with the album's cosmic free jazz vibes and experimental touch perhaps being the most characteristic elements."
-- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, June 2010
Crazy Fluid "Crazy Fluid is the ninth Spirits Burning album and among its many contributors are Daevid Allen, Graham Clarke, Bridget Wishart, Capt. Black. William Kopecky, Cyndee Lee Rule, Scott Brazieal and Garry Parra, who hardcore progheads might remember from the band Cartoon, and Ernie Falcone and the late Barney Jones from Mars Everwhere.... well, sort of. I'll explain later.
Crazy Fluid travels a somewhat different path than previous Spirits Burning albums. Dedicated to Barney Jones, Mars Everywhere and Cartoon, this will appeal to fans of avant-prog/Rock-in-Opposition styles, though, as always, there's plenty of space rock elements to be found throughout the album. The set opens with "Holy Water and the Sea Movers", which features Jazz inflected space rock with an outstanding aresenal of instrumentation. We've got ripping guitar leads by Richard Wileman (Karda Estra) and a gorgeous bass sound from William Kopecky (been in a zillion bands). I love the sound of what's described as ambient interlude clarinet. Later the music transitions and launches into a killer prog and fusion rocker, with saxophone and Cyndee Lee Rule's Viper violin leading the way, plus piano, outasight guitar, spaced out synths and more. Great opening track. "My Caspian Sea Monster" is a rhythmically off-kilter and brain-scrambling, but compositionally mind-boggling avant-prog piece. Scott Brazieal and Gary Parra, who contribute keyboards and drums, clearly had an influence because parts of this are reminiscent of their Cartoon days. I also hear elements that bring to mind a more funked out version of Fred Frith's Speechless album. All in all it's a frenzied instrumental workout that works up a drenching sweat. Graham Clark has in no way lost his touch on the violin as his work on this tune is stunning. "Slicing Through The Unknown Plantagenets" consists of Jazz fusion with a spaced out edge. We're treated to pleasant melodic acoustic guitar from Purjah, underscored by a fusion jam that is alternately rocking and mellow, and all surrounded by Capt. Black's aggressively swirling UFO synths. It's a wild combination that works great. Later in the track the band dispense with the Jazz elements and launch into a searing rocking jam that's like a coda to "My Caspian Sea Monster". "I Don't Want To Grow Up and Be A Scent Dealer Like You" is a short, caustically aggressive, and strangely grooving, jazz-rock workout.
A note about "Caravelle" says that it features ancient material from a jam at my cousin Ernie's house in the days that he, Barney, and Greg were in Mars Everywhere. A little background: Ernie Falcone and the late Barney Jones started Mars Everywhere in the Washington, DC area in the late 70s and released an LP in 1980 on Random Radar Records, plus at least one cassette tape that I know of on the Audiofile Tapes label. A lesser known but essential band from the American space rock underground (the late great Doug Walker turned me on to these guys). This is an interesting combination of old and new material, and you can easily distinguish the older recordings from the new. Whimiscal jazz mixed with psychedelia and doomy prog. "Pinball Symphonies (An Ancient Psychedelic Performance @ The Tail End of Youth)" includes more of the old Mars Everywhere recordings. It starts off like an avant-orchestral free-improvisation but never stops for a moment, allowing no opportunity for categorizaton. There are elements of lumbering 70s hard rock, Jazz bass, classic prog rock mellotron, and endless sound effects. And in terms of composition, construction, and flow.... it works like a charm. I was riveted for the entire 11 minutes
"Martian Crystals" is the one actual song on the album, of course with Bridget on vocals. It rocks in space with a cool funky groove and is a bit dance-like. Bridget is credited with Martian Vocals singing in a growly Nina Hagen-ish style. "Liquid Clocks" is almost Smooth Jazz at the core, though it's surrounded by a spaced out ambience and does manage to rock out too. Nice Viper fills by Cyndee. And speaking of rocking out, "Fondue Fuels" is the in-yer-face prog-space-punk monster track of the album. This... is... ROCK. Careful, it'll leave bruises on ya. "The Book of Luana" closes the album and is a tribute to 70s progressive rock. The notes about the track says that the subject of this song and the idea to emulate the classic sound of 70's progressive rock instruments were inspired by Mauro Moroni of Mellow Records. Well Don does just that... in spades. The track opens with acoustic guitar, synths and chanting vocals by Daevid Allen, but quickly launches into a steady rocking song that reminds me of the 70s Canterbury bands. After a few minutes there's a spaced out transitional bit before commencing with Part iii, which is a killer throwback to classic 70s prog, lyrics and all. Part iv returns to the introductory segment, but builds on it and very much reminds me of Steve Hackett's early solo albums.
Wow, what a knockout of an album. Don never fails to keep Spirits Burning fresh and exciting. And reviewing this back-to-back with "Bloodlines" was a real pleasure, especially given the contrasts between the two. Keep 'em coming!!! "
-- Spaceman33, Aural Innovations, March 2010
Bloodlines "Given the roster of contributors on this album the overall timbre of Bloodlines isn't too surprising, featuring as it does the likes of Gong's Daevid Allen, several ex-members of Hawkwind, a Citizen Fish, a Banco De Gaia and Nic Potter from VDGG. Coming across as mesmerising, ambient dub-cum-spacerock on the whole, it deviates into the realms of Krautrock, jazz, punky pop and acid-folk at times too. With Simon House's violins firmly to the fore, the delightful "Czaritsa" is reminiscent of something off Moorcock's New World's Fair, whilst "Rocket To The End Of The Line" is a Neu! meets Primal Scream hybrid (musically at least) and has to be one of the album's highlights. The lyrics on some of the historically-themed songs such as "Cleopatra" and "Lady Jane" are a little contrived at times. But this is a minor criticism, and otherwise, the well-crafted instrumentation and Wishart's serenely susurrant vocals more than make up for this."
-- Rich Deakin, Shindig! No.15 (The Sounds of Now), October, 2010
Bloodlines "It seems that Spirits Burning's sound is a very diverse thing. With this album the more familiar space rock elements are joined with jazz, psychedelia and even dance club music. The thing about Spirits Burning is, no matter how different each disc is from the others in the catalogue, its always entertaining.
Track by Track Review:
"Eye of the Day" There's a rhythmically dominated electronic meets prog sound to this tune. The vocals come in over the top of this after a time. They are a little distant in the mix. At times Wishart whispers and at other points she sings. This cut could almost pass as some kind of dance club number. They turn it to a killer groove later.
"Cleopatra" We get a cool retro element to this piece. It's like a space rock meets progressive rock arrangement based on some vintage garage band sound. This has tons of energy and is both catchy and quirky. I like this one a lot. Theres a jazz dominated bit mid-track and this turns more towards space rock from there. Later on they give us a flute solo before a more distorted segment takes it. A killer guitar solo is heard beyond that.
"Midas Touch" There's a weird electronic sound with a jazz sort of twist to this. It's sort of more rhythmic than melodic and the vocals that skate over the top are rather haunting. This gets more jazz-like as it moves out from that first section. Still, after that movement, it works out towards music more like the opening movement before dissolving to even more spacey territory.
"Chaminuka" This really feels like the noisy, keyboard dominated, electronica styled segment of Hawkwind music. It's got mostly spoken vocals in multiple layers and weird bits of sound dancing over the rhythmic backdrop. There are a couple short excursions into different types of sounds.
"Rocket to the End of the Line" The Hawk-like space sounds are still here, but mixed with something more like a Todd Rundgren kind of arrangement. This is both odd and catchy at the same time. It features both female and male vocals and different instruments lead the festivities at different times. This is a cool piece of music that just oozes charm. It works down to spacey keyboard sounds for the ending section.
"Heavens Hide" There's a definite pop rock sound for the main structure of this tune. It's got more of that space rock texture over the top, though. There is an awesome bass line at times on this tune."
"Czaritsa" Symphonic elements meet psychedelia pop music and space rock.
"Queen of Ghosts" While in some ways this doesn't differ from the previous tune all that much, there's some killer guitar soloing over the top of this and the musical motif here is quite cool.
"Goldmine" This one's got more of an electronic groove to it. It's another cool tune.
"Follow Me" Based with an acoustic guitar melody, this feels like a folk rock meets space rock tune. It's got some intriguing sounds over the top of it.
"Mistress of the Age" Mellow space merges with Indian-like world music. This is a cool cut that works really well. It's got some cool bass work in the background and features the same type of sounds that make this set consistent while really establishing itself as a psychedelic kind of tune that is unique.
"Mother of the Dragon" There's more of an open jazzy element to this combined with more of that psychedelic space texture. This is cool, but one of the weirdest cuts on show. It's also one of the least effective. Still, I like it. It just pales a bit in comparison to the rest of the stuff.
"Lady Jane" Mellow motifs with world and psychedelic tones merge in this pretty, but slightly off-kilter tune. I particularly like Wishart's vocal performance here. There's a false ending followed by a reprise with flute taking the melody line. It's a nice touch.
"Holding Hands" Organic, and yet space oriented, this is a slow moving and delicate number that's quite pretty. It has some symphonic elements in the mix. The bass runs in intriguing ways later.
"Silene's Light" This one's more of a rock tune and seems to combine the organic elements that dominate the disc with something closer to the hard rocking side of Hawkwind. There is some cool guitar soloing over the cut. This is particularly true in the soaring instrumental section later in the tune."
-- Gary Hill, Music Street Journal, May 2012
Bloodlines "It's very much a case here of "if an idea worked this well on first outing, then why not do it again" - and so they do. Embarking on 15 tracks with a list of musicians as long as a school roll call, tracks that are assembled bit by bit rather than just composed, all connected by the strength and delicacy of Wishart's vocals, the result is an album of songs that is truly worthy of following on from the first one.
Things open with the 5 minute "Eye Of The Day" where the insistent rhythm from choppy synths, handclaps and percussion is the driving force and the focal point around which the rest revolve. Bridget's vocals are husky on top of it all as the multi-tracked and textured rhythms are surrounded by space synth swoops as the track takes the occasional twist and turn into darkness and serenity, but predominantly remains rhythmic and has you tapping along with it as the assorted icing on the cake is provided by layers of synths, wordless harmonies, and percussives, all told, a superb track to start things off. After this, "Cleopatra" sounds strangely normal as a tale is told by Wishart, this time with a higher flying vocal over what you'd call a "traditional rock band setting" as the song flows from verse into a soaring, infectious chorus over the driving rhythms and melodic guitars, topped off with added synths and fx, but it's the guitars that ring out sensitively to take central attention with chords and riffs as the vocals are gloriously multi-tracked on the choruses for added depth and it's a stunner. "Midas Touch" is slower and darker with a cave of a vocal from Bridget, all ominous and yet quite siren-like, as the cascading refrain that dominates the intro, resounds over layers of space synths, cosmic backdrops, slow motion drums and melodic keys. Then the song begins with the slowly flowing track possessing huge electronic depth and the vocal almost a part of the instrumental spectrum, as the refrain returns, the track builds and drifts into this ocean of gorgeous darkness. "Chaminuka" wakes you up with a start as the galloping beats introduce deeply delicious bass sequencers, clattering percussion and throbbing rhythms, as space synths swoop, and it sounds like "electronic world music", almost like a darker version of the classic "Masimba Bele" by The Unknown Cases and just superb as the restless vocals whisper underneath the massively insistent rhythms.
"Rocket To The End of The Line" is a 7 minute track, this time featuring a male lead vocal courtesy of Steve Swindells with Bridget on the harmonies, as the track takes on a distinctly psych-rock identity with solid rhythm section driving it all along, a depp undercurrent of textural electronics, more Krautrock-esque train-like rhythms and, again, a quite dark sounding track but lively with it, and plenty going on instrumentally and vocally to command your attention. Piano rolls in to provide extra melodic texture as the vocals take on more of a multi-tracked, almost hushed, role. The track flows, rumbles, drives and intensifies as guitar enters and provides a bit more bite, the whole thing lifting off and powering ahead in controlled chaotic fashion.
"Heaven's Hide" is just short of three minutes and an electronic-acoustic track with breathy vocals from Bridget, very atmospheric yet rhythmic courtesy of a delightful acoustic guitar riff and engaging by virtue of the expansive space synths and mellotron, deep bass throb and the gorgeous multi-tracked and lead vocals, a track that leaves you wanting more. "Czaritsa" takes on a more Middle Eastern flavour as a similarly structured song to the earlier "Cleopatra" unfolds, only this time there's a stunning shimmering violin layer, solid, chunky rhythms, sinuous Middle-Eastern melodies, sublimely layered lead vocals and the whole thing just rises like the sun, every bit as welcoming. "Queen Of Ghosts" bounces along on choppy drumming as the deep bass throbs along underneath, this flowing layer of violin provides the main melodic instrumental focus and the vocals are warm and sultry, the whole thing a bit like a sort of mid-seventies cosmic Gong with a female singer and decelerated in a parallel universe just wonderful! "Goldmine" has a rippling piano flow, twangy, ringing guitar melody, gently rattling percussion beats, textural synth fogbanks and almost distant breathy, warm, sultry and exquisite vocals as the choppy track fills your space with wonder, atmosphere, multi-layered splendour and wide-eyed mystical magic.
"Follow Me" is another flowing slice of expansive mysticism in song as acoustic guitars strum,, the warm multi-tracked vocals flow with great feeling and depth as cosmic electronics occupy the space, cello adds depth and strength, and it's all just so full of feeling, there's almost a tear in your eye at just how beautiful it is in a kind of darkly wonderful manner. "Mistress Of The Age" is a track that's got the lot rhythm, atmosphere, an almost "new age" melodic magic, high-flying vocals from Bridget, deep resonant bass, layers of electronics and the sort of thing that you might not have been surprised to hear on a more progressive-rock oriented Gilli Smyth album, but with echoes of the Middle East once more for added effect. "Mother Of The Dragon" is like a trip through dark underworld cosmic jazz with fluid guitar notes, echoed brass refrain, combined with choppy percussive beats, sultry vocal whispers, deep bass rivers and a feel that's dark and engulfing yet somehow extraordinarily beautiful at the same time. "Lady Jane", with its flute-led intro, takes us immediately to days of yore as the gently flowing rhythms introduce a melody taken up with piano and synth, as Bridget's vocal is deliciously multi-tracked, accordion enters, and the whole track expands like fluid space as the song lifts you up, takes you back and unfolds its tale to absolutely spellbinding effect, slowly melodic, infectious chorus, despite its slow pace, and a song so full of feeling, you're transported along with every note of its rich-sounding glory. "Holding Hands" is another slow track, again built up from layers of flowing guitars, synths and keys, more of that expansive multi-tracked vocal beauty, lilting piano, almost orchestral backdrops and a nature so warm and flowing, it's almost overwhelming in its effect on your senses as you just dive into its charms and let the whole thing wash over and into your head, heart and soul.
The album ends with "Silene's Light", reintroducing the percussive beats, space synths and deep bass, as gorgeously sultry, ethereal, warm, expansive vocals weave their spell, an electric guitar comes and goes, as layers of synths and flute, choirs and percussion, all combine to provide a hugely uplifting track to see things out with bite, beat and beauty.
This album is even better than the first one and the first one was great by virtue of the fact that nothing outstays its welcome, everything is played and performed to perfection, every track oozes feel and passion from every pore, it's sublimely atmospheric, totally consistent and will become an album you'll treasure for a long time to come which is, oddly, how I ended the review of the previous one best bit is it's true!!"
-- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Bloodlines "First of all, I must state that it's really great that Spirits Burning, the international space rock collective led by Don Falcone, is now releasing material on Voiceprint and we fans have the possibility of getting even several releases a year while earlier on the album releases might be postponed for years. This is the second album released as Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart and this ex-Hawkwind singer fits perfectly this concept that features some famous and also some unknown musicians in changing combinations. This time the line-up also features regular member Daevid Allen (Gong), Alan Davey (ex-Hawkwind, Gunslinger etc.), Simon House (ex-Hawkwind, ex-High Tide, ex-David Bowie etc.), Toby Marks (Banco de Gaia), Nic Potter (Van der Graaf Generator) and many others. Bloodlines can be seen as a theme album, since all the tracks are about some famous historical persons or legendary characters that just happened to have a good story to tell. Musically the album is a bit more electronic than usual, and there are several musicians from that genre featured.
There are 15 tracks on the disc. Composed by Falcone, the pleasant "Eye of the Day" starts off the album with mid-tempo electro and tells about Mata Hari. Next we get to hear some more traditional rock with real drums and the catchy "Cleopatra" is one of the best pieces on the album also featuring clarinet and flute. Davey's composition "Midas Touch" is a peaceful ambient piece, "Chaminuka" a hypnotic, shamanistic mantra. Sung by Steve Swindells (ex-Hawklord) "Rocket to the End of the Line" is again a bit more rocking material and another favorite of mine. The acoustic-driven "Heavens Hide" is a beautiful and airy track that has soft vocals by Bridget as well as for example some Mellotron (Falcone), synths (Harvey Bainbridge) and skillful bass (Nic Potter). Telling about the last Russian empress Alexandra, "Czaritsa" is a pleasant track with electronic beat that gains a lot form the wonderful violins by House. "Queen of Ghosts" is a rather electronic piece about a Greek goddess called Hecate while the pretty soft "Goldmine" is about Grace Kelly. The sad and tranquil "Follow Me" is next and lures a beautiful maiden into the world of the fairies. The mystical and Oriental "Mistress of the Age" includes for example sitar and lots of guitar by Allen and is one of the album's best tracks as well. "Mother of the Dragon" is a quite minimal piece with some trumpet where the mother of Vlad III "The Impaler" Dracula senses the violent destiny of her son while bearing him in her womb. "Lady Jane" is a really pretty and melancholic, acoustic-driven track including beautiful melodies. The very atmospheric and brilliant "Holding Hands" waits for the Son of God to arrive from the clouds in the controls of an UFO in floating moods. The album is finished with the great and rather psychedelic "Silene's Light" that's about the Egyptian gods. Although this is a little more serene stuff, Bloodlines is one of the best Spirits Burning albums and definitely worth getting!"
-- Dj Astro, PsychotropicZone, March 2010
Bloodlines "Bloodlines is the eighth Spirits Burning album and the second collaboration with Bridget Wishart, the follow up to the Earth Born album from 2008. As is the custom with Spirits Burning we have a wealth of contributors. Among the more well known names are Daevid Allen, Harvey Bainbridge, Simon House, Steve Swindells, Banco de Gaia, and Nic Potter from Van Der Graaf Generator (nice one Don).
Although there's little space rock in evidence, ex-Hawks turn out in force, with cameos on 9 of the 15 tracks: Harvey Bainbridge (synths on tracks 4, 6, 8), Alan Davey (synths on 3, 14), Simon House (violin on 7), Steve Swindells (Piano, synth and vocals on 5) and Steve Bemand (guitar on 12, 15).
Bloodlines consists of 15 songs and is described as a historical jaunt by a cosmically festive crew, with each track focusing on a different historical figure. The songs are very accessible, many even radio friendly, though the magic of the music is the underlying variety and complexity. Among the standout tracks are "Cleopatra", a solid rocker about everybody's favorite Egyptian queen. It's a bit on the punky side, with great flute and clarinet embellishments from Purjah. Don never shies away from bringing together contrasting elements on these albums. Like the dirty bluesy slide guitar alongside ambient and alien synth bits on "Queen Of Ghosts". Jazz and blues influences are augmented by spacey electronics and grooves on "Mother Of The Dragon". "Mistress Of The Age" is one of my favorites, with an exquisite blend of gliss guitar from Daevid Allen and sitar from Purjah. Beautiful song. Ethnic, psychedelic, spacey, and great grooves. "Czaritsa" is a light but nicely grooving tune with Simon House's violin singing in harmony with Bridget. I love the acoustic guitar and mellotron combination on "Heaven's Hide". And "Silene's Light" features a great mixture of old time prog, searing rock, and dance grooves.
There's plenty of rhythmic action and ethnic influences throughout the album, and lots of creative use of electronics. The lyrics are well written, mostly by Bridget. One exception is "Rocket To The End Of The Line", with lyrics penned by Bridget and Steve Swindells. Steve takes lead vocals on this space-pop rocker. It's a cool song and if Don were looking for candidates to be a single, this would be a good one. Following the lyrics on Bloodlines was especially interesting because of the descriptions that precede the songs in the liner notes. For example, "Mother Of The Dragon" is all the more interesting having read that its based on the question, back in the 14th century, how might the mother of Dracul (Vlad the Dragon) felt if she could somehow sense the violent destiny of her son as he nestled in her womb?. And "Holding Hands" suggests that if God's son decided to pay a visit to 21st century Earth he might well appear out of the clouds at the controls of a UFO. Now there's an image for you... "
-- Spaceman33, Aural Innovations, March 2010
Bloodlines "This is a concept album: according to Don Falcone in an online interview, they were "using kings and queens of history as our lyrical starting point". The concept appears to have been broadened but, certainly, queens are strongly featured. However, don't expect anything in like Rick Wakeman's Six Wives. The music is generally understated and it took me several listens to get much out of this. As we should probably expect from Spirits Burning, there is no single musical style - the compositions range from acid folk, industrial noise and space pop to pastoral easy listening and chamber pop. The first five or six tracks are generally faster and more energetic while the latter part of the album subsides into pastoral easy listening, albeit with a strong sense of melancholy (even tragedy) running through most of the songs. Bridget sings virtually all the lead vocals and is in good form throughout. Ian Abrahams reviewed this on "Spacerock reviews" and spots some re-cycled Hawkwind lyrics.
Although there's little space rock in evidence, ex-Hawks turn out in force, with cameos on 9 of the 15 tracks: Harvey Bainbridge (synths on tracks 4, 6, 8), Alan Davey (synths on 3, 14), Simon House (violin on 7), Steve Swindells (Piano, synth and vocals on 5) and Steve Bemand (guitar on 12, 15).
The instant standout track, "Cleopatra" (track 2), has the sort of slightly clumsy sing-along chorus that Boney M (or at least Bananarama) would have been proud of. It also motors along nicely, with nifty flute and guitar breaks. "Rocket to the End of the Line" (track 5) is also worth a mention as (a) it is another of the most up-tempo tracks on the album and (b) it features a Steve Swindells lead vocal. Of the later, easy listening, selections, track 13 ("Lady Jane") probably has the best tune, and tells the sad story of Lady Jane Grey, queen of England for 9 days in 1553. "Follow Me" (track 10) is another sweet tune. "Heaven's Hide" features lyrics that Bridget originally performed with Hawkwind (as "Seventh Star").
"Czaritsa" (track 7) tells the thoroughly grim story of Alexandra of Russia to the accompaniment of a rather jaunty tune on which Simon House's violin is prominent. "Mistress of the Age" (track 11) concerns Shahzadi (Imperial Princess) Jahanara Begum Sahib, who became first lady of India in 1631.
Elsewhere the album delves into Egyptian mythology ("Silene's Light", track 15), African mysticism ("Chaminuka", track 4, which appears to be about a Zimbabwean spirit, although since the lyrics are mainly in Xhosa and Ndebele that's about all I can glean) and the mother of Dracula "(Mother of the Dragon", track 12).
This understated song cycle probably needs repeated listening (and frequent visits to Wikipedia) before it starts to make any sense, but it does repay perseverance. Worth a listen."
-- Graham, Starfarer's Hawkwind Page, Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 29, Jan 2010
Bloodlines ". . . As if by magic, here's one of those children of the 70s concept album, the second CD from Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart, following up their successful and highly praised collaboration Earth Born with this set of 15 songs based on figures from history and characters of legend, all, as Bridget says, "people who fascinated us, who had a good story to tell."
If you're at all familiar with the work of Don Falcone's Spirits Burning ensemble, you'll understand the form. It's a gathering of the noted and the less well known faces of the spacerock scene, contributing across the Internet and producing music that covers many of the different strands of what we collectively describe as 'spacerock' though it leans one moment towards progressive, another time to jazz or folk, sometimes being avant-garde and other instances being full of melody. Bloodlines, for me, veers mostly towards a progressive tone but with some really engaging hooks. . .
So the concept album isn't dead, and on Bloodlines it's used to great effect and perhaps that's because the songs aren't afraid to stray from their initial brief at times, and because the myriad of musicians (I've not mentioned them all here, there's far too many, but many familiar Spirits Burning contributors are on duty again here) who each bring their own unique interpretations to the work. This enables Don and Bridget to capture their chosen concept so that it binds the songs together without the album ever dipping into dull 'sameness', since around each corner is another unexpected but sympathetic instrument or effect that gives the work a successful range of aural emotions and in the end delivers a very absorbing whole."
-- Ian Abrahams, Spacerock Reviews, October 29, 2009
Golden Age Orchestra
Golden Age Orchestra "What do you call a poet without a girlfriend? Homeless. Thom the World Poet (Strange Daze Space Rock Festival)
First, this is not a new Spirits Burning album. It was released in 2009 and while preparing a Spirits Burning radio special a few months ago I realized it's one I missed, so I'm filling in the review crack.
Thom the World Poet will be known to Aural Innovations readers through his association with Gong and Mother Gong. I had the pleasure of experiencing Thom's freeform improvised poetry when he played M.C. at the Strange Daze Space Rock Festivals and the Quarkstock 2000 Space Rock Festival. In the CD notes, Spirits Burning ship captain Don Falcone says, 'Thom's ability to vocally riff on the spot will forever amaze me!' I know exactly what he means. Thom's delivery, band intros, announcements and chats at the festivals were compelling and FUN.
Golden Age Orchestra is very different from any Spirits Burning release to date, mainly because most of the tracks were recorded with a group of musicians actually performing together, rather than the usual Spirits Burning method of Don Falcone assembling multiple contributions from around the world. Joining Thom were David L. on acoustic and electric guitars, Jay Radford (University of Errors, Mushroom) on electric guitars and electric conga, Michael Clare (University of Errors, Weird Biscuit Teatime) on bass, and Don Falcone on organs, horns, piano, string and electronic driven things.
The music consists of spacey, jazzy, bluesy, cool grooving acoustic-electric rock, all functioning as support for Thom's vocals. I like the spacey jazzy rock, with tasty leads from both acoustic and electric guitars on Golden Age of When. I dont know who David L. is but I love the guitar interplay between him and Jay Radford, with Only One Question being a standout for dual leads. Other highlights include the spacey sultry blues of Retirement Blues. I dig the psychedelic jazzy blues with trippy flute-Mellotron sounding leads on "Santa Somewhere (Beach Blanket Waltz)." "Both The Light And The Dark" is the most psychedelic tune of the set and also the only instrumental, with cavernous Eastern flavored atmospherics and percussion. And "River of Xperience (Only One Questions)" is the one traditional Spirits Burning track, including global contributions from Kev Ellis (Dr Brown, BubbleDubble, Sonic Arcana) on killer blues harmonica, Chris Hopgood on guitar, and the late Mychael Merrill (Melting Euphoria) on conga.
Golden Age Orchestra may not appeal to all Spirits Burning fans, but to Don's credit, the project has taken multiple twists and turns over the years and this is certainly a twist. The musicians are outstanding and Im assuming they were improvising along with Thom. And to really appreciate Thom you have to keep in mind that he's improvising the lyrics throughout. Pretty impressive."
-- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations, September 11, 2013
Golden Age Orchestra "Spirits Burning general make music that fits along the lines of space rock. There can be some definite variation there, but its usually not as much diversity as found here. This stuff tends towards folk music, but blues is another definite reference. The vocals on this remind me of Mick Jagger's spoken stuff and his country tinged moods. Lou Reed is also a valid comparison. For the most part, this album was recorded live and basically improvised, even the vocals. It's an intriguing set.
Track by Track Review:
"Golden Age of When" Starting with spoken words, an acoustic based space rock jam rises up from there. The vocals get more sung as this continues and it really calls to mind Robert Calvert quite a bit, but with some folk music in the mix, too. This could almost be considered folk space jam band music. It's quite cool and a great way to start the set in style. Some world music comes into the mix later, but it never really takes over the cut. Theres also some cool acoustic guitar soloing later.
"Only One Question" In some ways this is essentially the same as the first track. There's more energy to it, from the get-go, though. The bass really drives this beast. In some ways there's a bluesy, jazzy vibe to this. It gets quite powerful as it continues, but still retains its acoustic based motif.
"Pony Up (Myth of Reality)" This is cool. Basically they take the musical concepts heard earlier on the set and bring a serious country twist to the mix. It's fun, and nicely strange. There is certainly a tongue in cheek element to it.
"The Choice" This one's more dramatic and seems tied in a lot of ways to the type of music the Animals used to do. Sure, it's still got those same Spirits Burning sounds, but I'm really reminded of the Animals.
"Retirement Blues" As the title suggests, here we get a blues tune that's still based in that same acoustic based Spirits Burning sound. There are also some great retro keyboard sounds at times.
"Santa Somewhere (Beach Blanket Waltz)" While the arrangement on this one is less layered and powerful than some of the others, it also manages to pull in more pure space rock sounds than some of the other cuts. There's also a cool psychedelic, distorted guitar bit later in the number.
"Everybody Knows" More folk rock oriented, there aren't any huge changes here. This cut gradually grows into a more rocking version of itself, but the change is certainly gradual and subtle.
"Both the Light and the Dark" This ones more spacey than some of the rest. There are some great vibrating sounds and the percussion track really has a lot going on in it. It's essentially an instrumental.
"River of Xperience (Only One Question Remix)" I like this version better than the original. Some harmonica lends some killer blues textures, yet it still maintains a space rock sound. This is possibly the best cut on the disc."
-- Gary Hill, Music Street Journal, May 2012
Golden Age Orchestra "I listened to this CD and realised that it is indeed a "spoken word" album with Thom's voice backed by an unusually stripped-down band for a Spirits Burning abum. All of the "songs" feature Thom's recitation, mostly spoken, sometimes half-sung, and, strangely, there is a comparison, and that's a sort of British answer to Loudon Wainwright III-meets-Daevid Allen the guy's definitely got a slight twang and a fair bit of phrasing that evokes the occasional comparison, particularly so in the 5 minute "Pony Up". Elsewhere, there's no denying that this guy's lyrics are well written, observational in the main and something that you do find yourself actually listening to, certainly for the first time around. Instrumentally, the backings are predominantly acoustic or electro-acoustic, largely relatively subdued, but definitely counting for more than mere presence, exhibiting some quite clever arranging from mastermind Don Falcone, in that it's engaging but manages not to take anything away from Thom. The pace of the poetry for that's what it is, to me does vary although tends to be quite "rhythmic" in its delivery, giving you the feeling that it's almost going to take off at several points but instead just glides gracefully overhead. It's not at all something I'd ever listen to out of choice, but for what it is, it's done well, kept simple but engaging and if you like the idea of this sort of thing, will fit on your shelf with ease."
-- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Golden Age Orchestra "Golden Age Orchestra is an exceptional Spirits Burning album in several ways. Usually all the musicians involved have worked individually on their own to produce their share to the songs but this time most of the basic tracks for the album were created live by three musicians (David L.: acoustic and electric guitars, Jay Radford: electric guitars, electric conga, Michael Clare: bass guitar) and Thom The World Poet (vocals, lyrics) while Don was recording the sessions with his laptop. Later on, Don added for example some organ, piano and electronics. In addition, the album's last track (that is a remix of the album's second track) features a few other musicians as usual. Besides the different working method another new thing is that almost the entire album has an acoustic approach. The acoustic guitar is in a very important role most of the time, in addition to Thom's improvised lyrics. There are no drums on the album, so the music doesn't really start to rock out in the actual meaning of the expression.
So what does this album sound like? The first couple of songs "Golden Age of When" and "Only One Question" are a bit hypnotic and repetitive pieces that wouldn't be out of place on a Rättö & Lehtisalo album, for example. "Pony Up (Myth of Reality)" is humorous Country music and "The Choise" a bit more melancholic Americana. "Retirement Blues" is, as you might expect, a blues-styled number and also "Santa Somewhere (Beach Blanket Waltz)" has some blues elements but it does also bring to mind early 70's Pink Floyd. "Everybody Knows" returns to Americana in a beautiful way while "Both The Light and The Dark" is a mystical psych folk piece with the phrase "the light and the dark" being repeated on and on. This one also includes some conga and I think it's too bad that we can enjoy this great track only for less than three minutes. So now we still have the bonus track "River of Xperience (Only One Question Remix)" that has some percussion, harmonica and more guitar added. It still remains pretty minimal as the rest of the album. In summary, Golden Age Orchestra is a very different Spirits Burning album in many ways and if you're only interested in harder space rock or more progressive stuff it might not be for you. Personally, I do enjoy the atmosphere it creates and Thom's apparently totally improvised lyrics are just genius."
-- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, Jun 2010
Our Best Trips 1998-2008
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 "Having reviewed all the original albums by this project, I wasn't going to bother reviewing this retrospective on the first five albums; what would be the point when the originals are so good!! Then I played it - and, like wow!! Retro or not, this is one sizzling album. Then you find out it has three exclusive bonus tracks and a rethink is clearly necessary.
So, on you go and the tracks opens with "By Design", a rousing slice of cosmic rock instrumental that features lashings of synths, hard-rockin' prog-rock organ, swirling guitars, dirty riffing guitars, driving rhythms, swathes of swirling electronics, red hot lead guitar and a massive sounding slab of psychedelic space-rock as you'll hear, complete with an instrumental hook that also swirls around your head for ages after., on a track that is just sensational in every way. Then comes "Second Degree Soul Sparks" which is 4 and a half minutes of spoken word samples, space synth swooops, world music didge, sustained cloud chords, distant guitars, electronic squalls and squeals, shifting rhythms, Hendixian leads that come and go, and generally just a seriously atmospheric and extremely psychedelic piece of music.
"Alien Injection" opens up with a quite bouncy example of space-meets-prog rock songwriting as mellotrons meet space synths and the piece is very much a "trad" song structure complete with chorus and verses which is propelled by lurching rhythms and where the bass rumbles along upfront as the space synth swoops and mellotron provide the musical atmosphere and a heated guitar break provides the bite as the track rumbles along and vocalist Kev Ellis provides the well enunciated singing, sort of Bob Calvert-esque only less distinctive. "Ingredients, Pink Lady, Lemonade, Liftoff" is an instrumental that shuffles along on solid crunchy percussives as synths swoop all around the rhythmic train-ride which accelerates and decelerates on and off before dissipating entirely and leading into a whole new musical arena with cosmic, early Seventies Germanic synths and keys over bongos and tablas, drums and percussion as the soundscape builds and builds to epic cosmic psychedelic rock proportions, and a thoroughly engaging instrumental for all manner of fans into everything from Prog-rock to Krautrock to psych rock. "Earth Born" starts out spritely enough with fellow ex- and present Hawkwind musicians Simon House, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick, all laying their bit down, the result being a surprisingly excellent slice of electro-acoustic psych-folk with choppy rhythms, a delicate set of instrumental layers, rolling percussion, deep textures and, above it all, that soaring, full-sounding mid-range vocal from Bridget Wishart, all delivered on a song with the occasional rousing chorus, that has it all.
"The Ticking Of Science" is close on 13 minutes of instrumental genius as primarily just Don Falcone on keys, percusion, samples and fx, plus Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson on guitars, provide this shuffling slice of gloriously full-sounding "Krautrock-meets-space music" which, although does feature percussive rhythms in part, remains one of the most wondrous pieces of music in this genre that you'll hear.
"Burning Bush" is near 6 minutes of space-jazz that floats, soars and drifts, before resonant percussion and train-like rhythms propel it forward and the mix of textures, layers, leads and overall effects, conjures images of a world music Blade Runner mixed with Can-like rhythms and is another total gem of an instrumental. "Salome" is 5 minutes of mid-paced songwriting with Bridget on vocals once again and this time we stray from space and psych into a world of gorgeous, multi-textured vocals over Fleetwood Mac-esque rumbling rhythms, upfront bass, expansive textures and one superb song that wouldn't be out of place on Claire Hammill's "Voices" album if she'd gone into prog-space rock mode. "Every Gun Plays Its Own Tune" is a more acoustic piece that's a mix of space-rock rhythmic undercurrents, multi-textured backdrops and Michael Moorcock reciting in a way that sounds more like Tom Waits as the whole track sounds like something out of an other-worldly wild-west movie soundtrack. "Drive By Poetry" features no less than ten players, including a reading from Calvert (Centigrade 232), another Gong-style bass line, a single-line chorus and the whole thing feels like a mix of classic space-rock/psych ambience with classic early seventies Gong, as Falcone, Howard, Palmer, Jerry Jeter on lead guitars, Pinnock, Anderson & ST37 create a sparkling array of layers, melodies and textures. "Snakebite Serum" moves restlessly on waves of native indian rhythms, out of phase fx, swirling keys, nerve jangling guitars and shuddering beats for three incendiary minutes, complete with further instrumental hooks and great layers and depths.
"Strafed By A UFO" bounces into life with biting guitar riffs, surging rhythms, background textures and lurching beats as the lead vocals kick in and the song drives forward, space synths swooping all over the place as this surging slice of neo space-rock takes you off to another space, the guitars charting the main instrumental path, again very much like Calvert-era Hawks. "Alpha Happiness" is a slowly atmospheric, multi-layered slice of celestial magic from keys, guitars, cello, wordless vocal backdrops, and is an absolute delight. The album ends on a cover of Planet Gong's "Opium For The People" which slows the track right down from a rousing slice of psych-punk that was the original, to a languid slice of space-rock-folk that is this completely re-arranged, declerated version of great depth, again almost Calvert-esque in its slowly flowing delivery. Overall, then, it's an album that is so cohesive, so faultless, such a predominantly instrumental gem, that you simply have to have it alongside all the rest for its completely different musical experience that's, arguably, the perfect intro to the world of Spirits Burning.
-- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 "The idea was, in 1998, to bring together space rock and prog musicians to create new music. With 55 involved en route, and a few CDs later, we get this compilation.
Daevid Allen (Gong), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and ex Hawk s Simon House, Alan Davey, Richard Chadwick, along with Michael Moorcock and even samples of Robert Calvert. Loads more too.
The music is what you d expect from such a project; hard edged space rock, effects, readings, guitars, the complete works. From Hawkwind to PT, there s the odd nod at 80s Eloy too. Allen is as irrelevant as ever too. One for space rockers only, but still pretty fun. Some good moments, but for most this is as good as it ll get, the individual albums may be too much hard work.
12 classics and 3 previously unreleased tracks, any spirit of the age will enjoy." *** 1/2
-- Joe Geesin , Get Ready To Rock, Jun 2009
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 "Wow. Spirits Burning has been going 10 years. Pretty impressive. This a really fantastic collection which features a lot of ex-Hawkwind members, Steven Wilson and Daevid Allen as well as members of Mushroom AMT, etc. You also get 3 totally unreleased tracks as well. As the title suggests this spans this projects full 10 years and has an amazing collection of tracks. This is a really great collection and is highly recommended for the psychedelic space rock fan. There are lots of unique guest appearances and a good value in time and money. This is a great introduction to Don Falcone's Spirits Burning Project."
-- Scott Heller, Aural Innovations, October 2009
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 "Don Falcone set Spirits Burning on their continuing mission just as the internet began to open up an index of collaborative possibilities that studio recordings and logistics previously precluded: the chance for content-creators to recruit musicians on an ad hoc basis across the ether; musicians they'd have scant hope of playing with face-to-face.
In the space-rock community, Falcone has done particularly well out of this approach, meaning that this survey of his first 10 years under the Spirits Burning banner throws up some surprising contributors whose participation in recording his music might shock even their most ardent of followers. Though he's avoided double-dipping a previous round-up of his work with David Allen (Glissando Grooves), he has selected Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson's slide guitar from 'The Ticking Of Science,' High Tide's violin genius Simon House on 'Earth Born' and Jefferson Starship drummer Trey Sabatelli on his cover of Planet Gong's 'Opium For The People.'
Such involvement doesn't guarantee quality simply by association but, though some of his stuff drifts wide of the target, the breadth of musical imagination displayed here, such as the world-jazz of 'Burning Bush,' shows that, when he gets it spot-on, Falcone really makes great use of his assembled talent."
-- Ian Abrahams, Record Collector, August, 2009 (Issue 367)
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 "Spirits Burning is one of the most unique entities in the space rock galaxy. . . . Don Falcone is nothing short of a genius in being able to gather all of these incredible people together for the Spirits Burning albums. For anyone out there curious as to what Spirits Burning is all about, this disc would serve as an excellent introduction to their work. To those who are already fans, this disc has been designed to stand up on it's own as a unique experience in itself and it succeeds very well at that aim. "
-- Ffroyd, Progressive Ears, July 12, 2009 [Full Review]
Our Best Trips 1998-2008 " SPIRITS Burning released their first CD in 1998 and since then more have been issued and the best of those CDs has been collected here. The idea of the band, if it can be called that., is to bring together musicians who want to celebrate space-rock and create new music. In all, 55 musicians have gathered to create new sonic adventures. People like Gong's Daevid Allen and Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson are amongst the myriad of line-ups here, and perhaps expectedly, many former members of the most way out of space rockers Hawkwind put in appearances.
Among the Hawkwind alumni are Robert Calvert, Richard Chadwick and Michael Moorcock, who turns up on the tracks 'Second Degree Soul Sparks' and 'Every Gun Plays It's Own Tune'. The 11 compilation tracks are joined by 3 previously unreleased numbers. An interesting release, but I fear a bit too 'out there' for most. "
-- Martin Hutchinson , Bury Times, CD Reviews (blog), June 19, 2009
Earth Born "This one's different it's all song-based and features the lead vocals of ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget Wishart and it's all very different from what you might have expected. For a start, the vocals are wonderful throughout, much more tuneful, deep, emotional and atmospheric than anything she did with Hawkwind, and much more wide-ranging, too. The first track is the 5 and a half minute title track and things start out spritely enough with fellow ex- and present Hawkwind musicians Simon House, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick, all laying their bit down, the result being a surprisingly excellent slice of electro-acoustic psych-folk with choppy rhythms, a delicate set of instrumental layers, rolling percussion, deep textures and, above it all, that soaring, full-sounding mid-range vocal from Wishart, all delivered on a song with the occasional rousing chorus, that has it all. The near 4 minute "One Way Trip" is altogether bouncier, this time including ex-Hawkwinders Jerry Richards and Steve Swindells, on the sort of song that you might have expected to hear on a collision between Slapp Happy and and Velvet Underground, firmly uptempo and choppy but the vocals sail over it all, as synths and fx fill the spaces, an electric guitar provides a killer solo in the centre and the whole track justifies every second of its running time.
The 5 minute "Always" is altogether slower, almost a kind of psych-ballad delivered with her full range intact but in a predominantly sultry manner as the band play it almost reggae-esque in terms of the rhythms, only vastly decelerated, with a huge depth of sound from the keys and synths of Falcone, and again, a totally different style and arrangement but one that works a treat in the hand of one female singer with a player and ideas man. "Sarah's Surprise" is another slower one, but this time much more passion in the vocals, piercing you with that inner eye, as Wishart provides an observational lyric that transfixes as she sings it high and mid-range to tuneful, emotional effect, the band gently scything, swaying and taking off to parts unknown. The four minute "Hit The Moon" starts off as a kind of psychedelic Santana as the vocals kick in, but the choppy rhythms, occasional burst of guitar and those husky strong vocals, complete the picture, the elements of synths, rhythm guitars, fx and more, bringing it all into a musical expanse that's simply stunning. All a bit like a cross between Santana, early Eno and Scritti Politti, and I wished it could have lasted a whole lot longer than it did.
Then comes the 6 and a half minute "Two Friends" which brings Gong's Daevid Allen into the picture on guitar. It rattles its train-like way forward through the arrangement, as deep keyboard chords herald the arrival of a more distant but gloriously mid-ranged vocal that deliver the song with languid excellence as the band chop away and it's all as gorgeous as it is eerie. The 4 and a half minute Behind The Veil gives us a song that's moodier and full sounding, and a bit like a decelerated, stoned-out version of Tom Tom Club only way more psychedelic, but it's got that happy feel as the rhythms bounce along, the multi-tracked vocals sound full and expansive and yet the song's got quite a dark feel to it courtesy of black sky synth drfits and Cyndi Lee Rule's fantastic violin playing that makes the track so successful. "Crafted From Wood" is stripped down to female lead and dual harmony vocals over solid, slow percussive beats and textural bouzouki, a pleasant and addictive little song that immediately worms its way into your brain and refuses to let go. At over 7 minutes, "Child Growing" is the longest track on the album and here the delicious sea of choppy rhythms that's been such a fantastic component of this album so far, continue onwards as another sultry, strong and flowing vocal is delivered with Craig Fry's violin playing right up there as sinuous and melodic and perfect as it comes, while the throb of the rhythms, the deliciousness of the vocal harmonies and the texture of the keys, synths and guitars, adding the icing on the almost Krautrock-like cake. "Candles" has an almost jazzy feel to it with a male lead vocal and Wishart on the harmonies, the former sounding a bit strange in the context at first, but when you hear the ripple of the guitars, the weaving keys, solid throb of the double bass and deep melodic clarinet, it all sounds utterly charming as well as solid and streaming too.
The 5 minute "Storm Shelter" truly is jazzy, but with a heart of melody, a head of delicacy and a soul that's got the soaring female multi-tracked vocals at its core as the track swings along to exquisite effect, Rule's violin lines over slowly lurching rhythms, an ocean of synths, full-sounding trombones as extra texture and guitar to add bite, all combine to provide a truly gorgeous song that's positively hypnotic, happy, infectious and utterly charming once again. "Evening" continues the psych-jazz feel but this time more late-night as the vocals flow like wine, the rhythms gently sway and the song is driven on a deep array of guitars, string and glissando textures, the whole thing once more solid yet wide-eyed and glorious as the song unfolds, the instrumentation is simply a delight and the mood so uplifting yet so relaxed at the same time. The album ends with "Dancers At The End Of Time" as we finish with a flourish, the rhythms as sprightly as they began, the song as psychdelicised pop as it comes, Roxy-ish oboe adding to rhythms and delicious vocals that could easily have come off an early Daevid Allen or Gilli Smyth solo album and a song that's got exactly the same feel, sound, and mood, as that description implies, the perfect end to what's been an absolute treasure of an album." -- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Earth Born "This is a very special CD . . ." -- Scott Heller, Bad Acid, Tab 9
Earth Born "This is where folk, prog and space rock all come together. Bridget Wishart was the only female singer for Hawkwind, and was part of the crew from 1989 - 1991. Various musicians include Daevid Allen and Alan Davey, and the sound immediately reminds you of Karnataka and Mostly Autumn with a space rock edge. To a much lesser extent, Blackmore's Night. Even the Kate Bush / Peter Gabriel coupling comes to mind.
This is an interesting and very different angle, a touch of MOR in places, it's not the most startling album I've heard. There are some great songs here, and a very atmospheric feeling. Like clouds at a Summer's day picnic, with love and laughter in the air, you can feel the drifting." ***
-- Joe Geesin, 2008
Earth Born "Decades of space rock expertise, innovation production, and a strong Earth theme in the tradition of the early free festivals, inform this beautiful CD. Wishart drew on lyrics she penned over a twenty-year span. Organized under the masterful production of Spirits Burning's Don Falcone, the lyrics became the collabortative basis for a collective of musicians separated by thousands of miles. Mixed by Falcone with Wishart's vocals, the result is a quiet, wonderfully textured CD that ranges from space funk to jazz to minimalist."
-- Kevin McCabe, August, 2009
Earth Born "As with the best Space Rock/Pop, here space becomes a not-so subtle metaphor for that beautiful interzone outside the narrow confines of nuclear family, workplace, & capitalist endeavour, where real freedom and happiness is again attainable. As a good friend-to-hippy, it doesn't take much to get me floating right out there with em."
-- Pig State Recon, "We've Made Such Advances" (blog), December 21, 2008
Earth Born "Some may remember Wishart from her brief tenure as a member of Hawkwind in the early 90s (she was featured on the Space Bandits studio album, and the live Palace Springs and Live at Nottingham 1990 two-disc set); I believe it's the only time that Hawkwind has featured a female singer, at least on reocrdings. On Earth Born, she joins the Spirits Burning crew (which includes mainstays Don Falcone and Daevid Allen, as well as HW alums Simon House, Richard Chadwick and Alan Davey, among literally dozens of other contributors) offering vocals, lyrics, and some melodies. For this outing, Spirits Burning seems a far more song-oriented and compositionally structured entity, even embracing touches of folk and pop here and therre, than their more usual freewheeling jammy space-rock tribal sound, although the arrangements still involve many of those sonic trappings, which keeps the disc engaging from beginning to end. Wishart's child-like, frequently treated vocals and space whispers may be a make-or-break for some listeners, but in the context of this musical setting, it suits perfectly. Since the whole SB concept is that of a studio project of long distance collaborations, the chance of a live performance of this is next to nil; still, it would be great to see some of this material perfomed live. Hopefully, this Wishart-SB joint project is not a one-off. I would certainly like to hear more from where this came from."
-- Peter Thelen, Expose Issue No. 36, Fall 2008
Earth Born "I must say that I was pretty off balance at first, when Spirits Burning released and album with virtually no space rocking. However, the album's tracks are so exquisite and pleasant that they attracted me. After listening to the CD a few times it started to open up in a whole new way and has since proved to be a very pleasant experience. Some fresh air after all the heavy, psychedelic space rocking." -- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone April 14, 2008
Earth Born "Don Falcone always gets some amazing musicians to help out on his Spirits Burning albums and this one is no exception. Earth Born does have a twist though, there was such a major contribution from Bridget Wishart that it's almost her solo album with Spirits Burning as the backing band. I guess I would say that this CD took me by surprise a bit. Not because it's better than I though it would be, I have a few Spirits Burning albums and I think they are great. What surprised me was how poppy the material here is. For once that isn't a bad thing at all and I really appreciate the lighter mood present here."
-- ffroyd, Progressive Ears March 2008
Earth Born "Since this disc features performances from a number of people who have been involved with Hawkwind (most notably Wishart herself) comparisons to that band are obvious. A lot of the music lives up to that. In fact a good deal of this disc reminds me of a more pure progressive rock oriented Hawkwind with some serious jazz thrown into the mix."
-- Gary Hill Music Street Journal March 2008, Issue 68
Earth Born "Don Falcone, guiding light behind the Spirits Burning space-rock collective, has done sterling work in the genre's service over the past few years, recruiting many of the scene's leading lights for his many projects, but he's surpassed himself with this release. In collaborating with Bridget Wishart, formerly Hawkwind's sole female lead singer, and member of many 80s festival bands, he's been able to bring a host of free festival musicians on board for an album that effortlessly mixes contemporary zest with that timeless vibe of campfires and ancient stones.
Spirits Burning regulars such as Daevid Allen and Jefferson Starship's Trey Sabatelli are blended with Wishart's former bandmates: Rich Chadwick and Alan Davey from Hawkwind, Sarah Evans from the Hippy Slags and the Demented Stoats' Steve Bemand. The result is a mature, eclectic and cool psychedelic jazz-rock creation.
Wishart's lyrics are ethereal ruminations on friendships made and lost on the traveller's trail, of freedoms found under starry skies or through performance and dance, and of darker undertones: betrayals, disillusionment and excess. It's a sophisticated and delicate production, particularly the scene-setting title track and Wishart's duet with Daevid Allen on 'Crafted From Wood.' The festival scene is gone, but the lingering memories are well infused here."
-- Ian Abrahams Record Collector Magazine Issue 348, April 2008
Alien Injection "So, on this album, there are just shy of 40 musicians and singers at work from bands such as Gong, Hawkwind, Dark Sun, Alien Planetscapes, Mooch, High Tide, Bevis Frond, ST 37, Secret Saucer, Quarkspace and many more, so as you can see, the emphasis is firmly on the mix of space-rock, psychedelic and prog rock. The remarkable thing about a project such as this is that it works at all, let alone works as well as this album illustrates, a testament to the calibre of the musicians involved.
The album itself has 14 tracks averaging about 5 minutes each, the range being from two and a half to nine minutes long. It opens up with a quite bouncy example of space-meets-prog rock songwriting as mellotrons meet space synths and the piece is very much a "trad" song structure complete with chorus and verses which is propelled by lurching rhythms and where the bass rumbles along upfront as the space synth swoops and mellotron provide the musical atmosphere and a heated guitar break provides the bite as the track rumbles along and vocalist Kev Ellis provides the well enunciated singing, sort of Bob Calvert-esque only less distinctive. "New Religion", instrumentally, is very much in the hands of Gong guitarist Daevid Allen and the synths of Don Falcone, with Adrian Shaw providing a muscular bass line and the track propelled by rolling resonant drumming as this time Karen Anderson sings the lyrics as the almost Native American feel of the rhythm track rumbles overhead until, ultimately the bass, the guitar and the synths each take on their own slice of upfront action in the mid-section instrumental bit. The vocals then return over the rumble and the distant glissando guitar as the song erupts once more.
"Alpha Harmony" is a 7 minute track which, initially, features the driving rhythms that are overlaid with some biting lead guitar work as Thom The Poet provides echoed reciting over the sea of rhythms and textures. Then, just shy of 3 minutes in, the track suddenly changes pace, drops the intensity of the rhythmic drive as the next part kicks in and here a whole new host of musicians comes into play as the cosmic interlude changes into a rolling slice of poetry-driven space-rock that's like a more restrained early Hawkwind, the overall result being a seriously magical track with outstanding guitar work throughout. "Every Gun Plays Its Own Tune" is a more acoustic piece that's a mix of space-rock rhythmic undercurrents, multi-textured backdrops and Michael Moorcock reciting in a way that sounds more like Tom Waits as the whole track sounds like something out of an other-worldly wild-west movie soundtrack.
The 9 minute "Logger's Revenge" is mostly instrumental, features rhythm section and no less than 3 guitarists, including Daevid Allen once again along with Doug Erickson and Erik Pearson, has a few lyrics courtesy of long-time Hawkwind fan Brian Tawn's recital, but most spends its life as a slice of driving, atmospheric psychedelic rock of the sort that you might have found on Gong's "Continental Circus" album and is one absolutely stunning track. "Augustus" is a beautiful 6 minute instrumental that starts in slowly rhythmic fashion, languid, jazzy and very summery, as the soothing sax and flutes of Purjah weave spells over the tumbling rhythms and the backdrop of mellotrons, synths and electric + acoustic guitars. Then all of a sudden they accelerate and the piece sounds like a Hawkwind mid-song section that could have easily come off their second album. Then it changes shape yet again and although pacey, takes on more of the jazz-meets-prog flavour as flutes, synths and mellotrons provide an almost Middle Eastern psych brew, but overall, one superb track.
"Future Memories" is essentially space-rock band ST37 playing Don Falcone, as this solid, mid-paced juggernaut of a song gives you 6 minutes of deliberately rumbling, bass-heavy, searing heat space-rock where the guitar flies sky high and the track's got a density to it that's almost stifling in its intensity, but one heck of an engaging song. The 3 minute "Entropy Tango", with Moorcock on properly sung vocals is a bit of a throwaway in that it really is a tango, an outer universe tango, but a tango nevertheless, sounding more like a quirky track that you'd find on a Daevid Allen solo album yet, oddly, he's got absolutely nothing to do with this one the influence must be in the water. "Another World" features Bridget Wishart on soaring, distant, beautiful sounding vocal purity as the drums roll, the bass rumbles and Mooch musician Steve Palmer plays electric guitar over the keys and synths of Falcone as this wondrous slice of slowly flowing psychedelic-prog-jazz mix flowers into bloom on a truly breathtaking song. At 4 and a half minutes, "The Hawk" is a track where Falcone gives a seriously close Arthur Brown-esque feel to the lyrics as the song itself dives and soars, drives and roars, with guitars, more mellotrons, more space synth swoops and the driving rhythm section, all make it into a solid, rolling slice of space-rock action that, once again, works a treat, both in terms of rock propulsion and spacey atmospherics.
"Imported Serpents" is just short of 4 minutes, instrumental, and features some sizzling lead guitar work over solid, crunching drumming, deep rolling bass and sounding for all the world like a head on collision between early seventies prog rock and late seventies Can, the result being one incendiary track that you wished could have lasted one hell of a lot longer. At 2 and a half minutes, "Ingleborough" is a semi-orchestral sounding piece with three cellos, electro-acoustic backings, a short "theatrical" voice-over from Moorcock and a piece where a lot goes on in a very short space of time, full of layers, textures, melodies and atmospherics propelled by mid-paced tumble of percussion and upfront resonant bass. "Upturned Dolphin" features a distant, recited vocal from Daevid Allen which remarkably doesn't sound like Daevid Allen told you this was one amazing album above a backing that slowly flows and where mournful violin weaves its spell over a sea of textures from synths, keys, guitars and percussion, all creating this seriously unnerving feel to the track as synths sparkle, the violin continues to cry and the vocal has a slight air of menace to it, all very strange and unusual. "Salome" is 5 minutes of mid-paced songwriting with Bridget on vocals once again and this time we stray from space and psych into a world of gorgeous, multi-textured vocals over Fleetwood Mac-esque rumbling rhythms, upfront bass, expansive textures and one superb song that wouldn't be out of place on Claire Hammill's "Voices" album if she'd gone into prog-space rock mode. "Montfallcon" is pretty much an acoustic track with guitars, mandolin and cellos, plus a few lyrics courtesy of Moorcock, delivered in "cod-operatic" style, all very mournful and the sort of thing you'd find in a play about some 16th century tragic comedy, taken into a whole new dimension, Instrumentally, its mix of almost "free" playing and the glue-like cohesion of the cello work, makes it a most extraordinary track that you feel you'd only ever hear on an album such as this.
The album ends on "Heaven" where a trio of Alan Wall on acoustic guitar, Don Falcone on mellotron and Mooch's Steve Palmer on synths, slide guitar and percussion play us out with just over 3 minutes and a delightful mix of surreal acoustic-prog that's like a cross between John Fahey and Celluloid, a truly amazing end to a seriously superb album, an album that only Don Falcone could ever come up with, and yet another successful addition to the amazing series of Spirits Burning albums." -- Andy G, Dead Ernest, May 2012
Alien Injection "Your shouldn't expect a typial space rock sound that ether rides the storm or slowly waves along. This international collective of space rock musicians likes it very much to experiment with tons of instruments and emotions. You will listen to ballads as well as anthems like "Alien Injection", which is in the spirit of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine". When you listen to their stuff at myspace don't go away if you don't like the first tracks you hear. Better check out the other tracks, the stuff really differs a lot." -- Betti, Psychedelic Music
Alien Injection "... top notch space rock" - - Scott Heller, Bad Acid, Tab 9
Alien Injection "Space rock collective under the wise guidance of Don Falcone! "Alien Injection" released in February 2008 and till now Spirits Burning released 4 more albums "Bloodlines", "Golden Age Orchestra", "Our Best Trips 1998 to 2008" and "Earth Born"). Very productive indeed! This is their 4th album that deals with space-progressive-rock of all times. If you wish to understand why I use the term "all times", just take a look at the members of this collaboration. Space rock remedies including Daevid Allen (Gong), Michael Moorcock, Pete Pavli (High Tide), Adrian Shaw (Bevis Frond), Larry Thrasher (Psychic TV), Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind) plus members of Dark Sun, Melting Euphoria, Mushroom, Quarkspace, Secret Saucer, ST 37, University of Errors, Weird Biscuit Teatime, and many more... Excellent production, fine artwork, an absolute must for all you cosmic space rock lovers out there." - - TLM, TimeMazine Issue #4
Alien Injection " Clearly we hear out "past" and "present", because the influence of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles are manifest. Clearly we hear out "past" and "present", because the influence of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles are manifest. Glistening guitars and electronic buzzing, nipping or bubbling determine many songs that are rhythmically kept rather simple, as in the genre, it's just normal. Glistening guitars and electronic buzzing, nipping or bubbling determine many songs that are rhythmically kept rather simple, as in the genre, it's just normal. Overall, the music of Burning Spirits, however, has mostly firmer, less the increase, as with the aforementioned bands, although there are definitely times extended jams. Overall, the music of Burning Spirits, however, has mostly firmer, less the increase, as with the aforementioned bands, although there are definitely times extended jams.
The combined space-rock units are with various other influences, there are also some subtle retro-proggige keyboard assignments (including mellotron!), Or it is something with jazzy inserts squinted gen Canterbury. The combined space-rock units are with various other influences, there are also some subtle retro-proggige keyboard assignments (including mellotron!), Or it is something with jazzy inserts squinted gen Canterbury. Finally, there are also a few oddities scattered, the Entropy Tango, which is actually a such and when they abruptly from the depths of the universe put into a dim dance hall in Buenos Aires, believes, or the bizarre Every Gun Plays with its own tune equally bizarre vocals by Michael Moorcock, who here sounds like an old sea dog intus there with a bottle of rum. Finally, there are also a few oddities scattered, The Entropy Tango, which is actually a such and when they abruptly from the depths of the universe put into a dim dance hall in Buenos Aires, believes, or the bizarre Every Gun Plays with its own equally bizarre to tune vocals by Michael Moorcock, who here sounds like old sea dog intus there with a bottle of rum.
Alien Injection certainly provides no musical revelations, it is more in the "past settled" as in "future", but the casual and relaxed way music is being played with here, just fun. Alien Injection certainly provides no musical revelations, it is more in the "past-settled" as in "future", the casual but fun and relaxed way music is being played with here, just. Space-rock lovers with a penchant for Gong typical silliness should listen to them here." -- Jochen Rindfrey babyblaue-seiten, Mar, 2009 [translated from German]
Alien Injection " . . . that sound "space" wraps and catapults into unexplored worlds and the bizarre, with extravagant effects arising from liquid keyboards, acidic guitars and hypnotic rhythms. That spirit of the visionary Gong trilogy "Radio Gnome Invisible" lives; modernized with a series of sixteen songs that seemingly dance, sometimes ecstaticly, sometimes more vehemently, but always in an especial aura of mystery. The disc is very long (almost an hour and twenty), but is never tired, indeed, it is passionate, involved, from the first catch through its cosmic rides, showing surprising vibrations; positively genius. Don Falcone is confirmed a "mysterious magician" and "Alien Injection" is faithful mirror of his inspiration and that of his followers and can be considered an unmissable event for lovers of space-rock." -- Peppe Di Spirito, Arlequins, July, 2009 [translated from Italiano]
Alien Injection " . . . great musicians, great band and therefore great music. . . . just like the imaginary clouds that surround the black spaces of the infinite universe. Seventy minutes of hard psychedelic trips and acoustic passages, without pause, without breathing, but only with our excited palpitations. Music in freedom." -- Gianni Della Cioppa, Andromeda Relix, July 12, 2008 [translated from Italiano]
Alien Injection ". . . an absolute must. The production is excellent and of course, the artwork. " -- Ulysses Carminati, Flash Magazine, October, 2008 [translated from Italiano]
Alien Injection ". . . space rock lovers would certainly be advised to check out "Alien Injection" which certainly has something to offer fans of this style of music." -- Tom De Val - DPRP, Vol 41, September, 2008
Alien Injection "An absolutely successful collective of Space/Psychedelic rock; tripping with fuzzy hippie sounds between ethnic and Krautrock that echo through the æther with an extremely fascinating journey that is far from the here and now." -- Kristian Selm - Progressive Newsletter, No. 63, August, 2008 [translated from German]
Alien Injection "The fourth album by the Spirits Burning collective reads like an awards list for space rock enthusiasts, featuring donations from Don Falcone (Weird Biscuit Teatime), Daevid Allen, Michael Moorcock, Pete Pavli (High Tide), Adrian Shaw (Bevis Frond), Larry Thrasher (Psychic TV), and Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind), plus members of Dark Sun, Melting Euphoria, Mushroom, Quarkspace, Secret Saucer, ST 37, University of Errors, and others. The early contributions concentrate on the guitar riffs but later works bring in more exotic instruments with a particular emphasis on strings.
. . . Quite a hefty package but the variety of ideas and quality of its players makes this a worthwhile addition to any stoner's album collection." -- Richard Barnes, Sea of Tranquility, September 2nd 2008 [ full review ]
Alien Injection "Spirits Burning is a project that brings together a great number of artists (Daevid Allen (Gong), Michael Moorcock, Pete Pavli (High Tide), Adrian Shaw (Bevis Frond), Larry Thrasher (Psychic TV), and Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind), plus members of Dark Sun, Melting Euphoria, Mushroom, Quarkspace, Secret Saucer, ST 37, University of Errors, Weird Biscuit Teatime, and more...) all interested in the psychedelic side of Prog. As you can tell, many of them are of well known groups.
Partly because of what I've just written, the music on "Alien Injection" is very varied. On different tracks I hear hints of The Doors, Pattie Smith, Tom Waits, Grace Slick... and also of some of the groups of the artists involved in the project, but the music is never derivative of any band or singer, and also it is not very "radio friendly".
Still Alien Injection is a very interesting music project, this because of the great quality of the people involved. Spirits Burning is a group that should be seeked out by lovers of psychedelic experimental music in the vein of what was produced in the late sixties and seventies." -- Marc, ProGGnosis, June, 13, 2008
Alien Injection " . . . packaging its Spirits Burning as an alternative to these cosmic small rock orchestras . "Alien Injection" is a long, exciting and dreamlike journey through space. Long live the space-rock!" -- Donato Zoppo, MovimentiPROG, July 2009 (Average rating: 8) [translated from Italian]
Alien Injection "Spirits Burning is a musical collective overseen by American composer/producer Don Falcone that has released a pluralistic combination of ambient, jazz and full-on space-rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries. Boasting contributions from notable members of Gong, Jefferson Starship, Hawkwind and others of their ilk, Spirits Burning has become a respected melting pot of the space-rock fraternity.
This year Falcone has been working overtime, first on a collaboration with former Hawkwind singer/songwriter Bridget Wishart (the recent Earth Born) that leaned towards a Massive Attack/Bristol sound, and now with this heavier 'bass and electronics' incarnation of Spirits Burning. On Alien Injection, Falcone has not only recruited such consummate musicians as Daevid Allen, High Tide's Pete Pavli and Adrian Shaw of Bevis Frond but has gained permission to rework demo-recordings by Hawkwind collaborator and noted Science Fiction author Michael Moorcock.
'The hawk in my room 'won't leave me alone' suggests Falcone on 'The Hawk' and, indeed, there's a legacy shared by most space-rock outfits that turns much of what is produced under that guise into something approaching glorified Hawkwind tribute status. Spirits Burning however, always transcend the limitations of the two-chord riff and, as Alien Injection proves, Falcone has many intriguing ways to present his ideas." -- Ian Abrahams, Rock N Reel, July-August 2008
Alien Injection ''Alien Injection must be metabolized as long as necessary, because it tastes of the labyrinth from which you do not want to quit - to discover ever more details, tracking sounds, no escape." -- Riccardo Storti, Mentelocale.it, 10 June 2008 [translated from Italian]
Alien Injection "Strap yourself in, pull down your mask, we're headed for the psychedelic reaches of outer space. Things get off to a very trippy start, swirling in a melting maze of mystery, with a different singer on every track (and some outstanding vocalists one might add) which continues to build as it goes. . . The journey definitely goes to some places you've never been. Recommended!" -- Peter Thelen, Expose, #34, March 2007
Alien Injection "Alien Injection is quite different from Found In Nature, being much heavier and including vocals on many of the tracks. Things begin on a hard driving space rock note with the title track, with Kev Ellis on vocals and backed by a powerful backing band including deep grooving bass from DarkSanttu, appropriate alien synths and classic prog mellotron from Don. What a great opening number! "New Religion" is next and is another strong track, with more powerful bottom end from Ade Shaw's bass, excellent vocals from Karen Anderson (whose congas also add a nice tribal groove to the song), gliss guitar embellishment from Daevid, and freaky electronics from Don. "Alpha Harmony" is a completely cosmic jamming space rocker with a nice bluesy edge and spoken word vocals from Thom The World Poet.
Damn nearly every track is a winner on this one and I'm tempted to go on at length on all of them, but I'll control myself and just describe a few of the other standouts so you'll get the idea. Anyway, "Augustus" starts off as a jazzy-proggy cosmic instrumental with a great electric/acoustic guitar combo from Doug Erickson and Dave Figoli, more tron from Don, and sax leads from Purjah (Quiet Celebration) that go beautifully with the mellotron lines. It flows along for a bit but then took me by surprise by launching into a killer space rock and prog jam. "Another World" and "Salome" are the tracks with Bridget on vocals and I think they turned out really good. "Another World" is deep in 70's styled progressive rock territory, with gorgeous tasteful guitar soloing from Steve Palmer and classic prog keyboard sounds from Don. And "Salome" is a tribal hippie psych song with an Amon Düül II flavor. "The Hawk" is another standout space rock and prog tune. It rocks hard in space and Jerry Jeter's guitar sounds like something off an album from the early 70's. This sucker ROCKS! Ditto for "Imported Serpents", on which Purjah switches to guitar and cranks out some of the most fiery licks on the album. "Upturned Dolphin" is an otherworldly piece, with Daevid on spoken word vocals, Graham Clark on violin and dual guitars from Jay Radford (electric) and Michael Moorcock (acoustic). We've also got a few tunes ("Every Gun Plays Its Own Tune", "The Entropy Tango", "Ingleborough") from Michael Moorcock's Deep Fix days, but with additional new material that makes for some interesting tracks. Overall this album really blew me away and is probably my favorite of the first four Spirits Burning albums." -- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations #34
Alien Injection "It's a fine album that once again features a lot of musicians who have worked in other musical endeavors. Wishart herself shows up on two songs on this disc. Michael Moorcock also guests on this CD and wrote several of the tracks. Members of groups like Gong, Hawkwind (others besides Wishart), Mooch and Dark Sun are also featured. The music here is in many ways similar to the space rock produced by Hawkwind. It's not limited by that label, though. Instead they wander into neo-classical, jazz, RIO and other sounds. I hear echoes of Patti Smith in at least one place, Pink Floyd (Barrett era) in a couple others and Anubis Spire here and there. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. This disc should definitely be of interest to Hawkfans, but prog fans in general (assuming they have an adventurous spirit) would be well advised to check it out. It's a good one!" -- Gary Hill Music Street Journal April 2008, Issue 69
Found In Nature
Found In Nature "Much influence from the past, from "classic" psychedelia of the 70's, but also the modern ... as Spirits Burning knows how to stir together old and new sounds. . . .natural, full of positive impulses ... and sincere art." -- Peppe di Spirito, Arlequins (from translation), 11-13-2006
Found In Nature "Don Falcone has again made a huge (although also fun) task of getting all this stuff together and mixing it, and in my opinion he has done an excellent job since the album forms a well-progressing whole and creates an odd, intriguing atmosphere for the listener. The project's next album, Alien Injection, should also be out soon, and this time we're in for a bit heavier stuff with some more vocals, as well. Also Finnish musicians will be included... " -- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, 03-04-07
Found In Nature "There's a clear theme on the album as most of the tracks on Found In Nature are instrumental and to varying degrees in the ambient/atmospheric realm, though there's lots of variety and throughout the album you'll find all manner of space rock, progressive and electronica influences. There are 16 tracks but among the highlights is "Burning Bush", a groove laden slab of space jazz that will get your toes tappin' and hips shakin', though it also has its more dreamy ambient moments." . . . An excellent album and if you listen close you'll really get an appreciation for the role Don plays as producer, mixing and shaping the various parts into tracks that are simultaneously cohesive and wildly varied. -- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations #34, August 2006
Found In Nature This time round Gong's Daevid Allen plays some spectacular lead (and glissando) guitar work on seven of the album's tracks, while cohort in a previous line-up, Graham Clark, contributes his violin skills to 5 tracks, one with Allen. Tracks range from the surging guitar-driven dynamics of 'Dolmen', past the soaring violin-led 'Variable Shades Of Friendship', the solid but calming acoustic ethno-fusion resonance that is 'Oak, Elm and Spruce', with guitar, synth and flugel to the fore, the dizzy heights that is 'Ingredients, Pink Lady Lemonade, Liftoff' with an initial drums-driven intro leading to high-flying wordless vocals, synths, djembe, bass and guitars combination that is just superb and the longest track on the album at nine minutes, through 'Chiaro', a short slice of space and abstract from three keys/synth players plus guitar, bass and drums, four minutes of 'Rakasha-Loka' that manages to be five completely different styles within one remarkably cohesive track, from calm to attack, the mix of ethnic fusion and Tim Blake style synths that is five minutes of 'Blue Wings', to growling calm, King Crimson-like attack and rumbling multi-layered strangeness, all mostly led by guitars, keyboards, synths, bass, drums, percussion and effects, but always cohesive, adventurous, atmospheric, layered and overflowing with interest. The most varied of the trio to date, and in many ways quite deep, it's the sort of thing that someone with a flair for cohesive musical statements and brilliant musicianship/arranging will really sink their teeth into and find hugely rewarding." -- Andy G (Dead Earnest)
Found In Nature ". . . excluding the three tracks described last, "Found in Nature" is overall a strong collection of instrumental tunes reflecting multifaceted tendencies adopted within that genre, some being really transporting. Recommended to those preferring:-) to travel in space by means of such a universal carrier as music." -- VM, Progressor, November 13, 2006
Found In Nature "If Spacey potpourri is your cup of tea, look no further." -- John Collinge, Progression, #52, Fall 2007
Reflections In A Radio Shower
Reflections In A Radio Shower ". . . the result is a very dense yet navigable sonic maelstrom, with many layers of sound-adding textures, psychedelic effects, shimmering gliss guitars and voices to the basic tracks. There's a lot going on in every track . . . and even after many listens, this writer is still hearing new, as-yet-undiscovered parts with each successive listen." -- Peter Thelen, Expose, #25, August 2002
Reflections In A Radio Shower [5 Stars] "While not a masterpiece, "Reflections In a Radio Shower" is by all means an excellent album. In my view, it is way better than any of the solo albums ever released by Daevid Allen. Certainly, this album should please not only the fans of Gong and Hawkwind, but also all those who miss the sound of Classic Space Rock of the 1970s." -- Vitaly Menshikov. ProgressoR, May, 2002 [Full version]
Reflections In A Radio Shower "All in all this album is a strange trip, taking up the baton where Gong (& others) left off, and is if you like a chilled-out psych supergroup , creating mesmerizing hypnotic melodies and including absolute masterpieces. . .
If you like psych and chill-out, you'll love this, best listened to with a big fat spliff and a lava lamp bubbling away." -- James Turner, Wondrous Stories, #122, Mar, 2002
Reflections In A Radio Shower "Released exactly two years after the first Spirits Burning (New Worlds By Design), the new Reflections In A Radio Shower CD is, like its predecessor, a "gathering in space" organized by Don Falcone, the man behind Spaceship Eyes, Quiet Celebration, and other projects. At a mere glance one might think this is a compilation. But in fact, Spirits Burning is an ambitious project involving creativity by cyberspace and mail. Space rock musicians from around the globe uniting (conspiring?) to bring a unique collaborative effort to thirsty ears everywhere. Feast your ears upon this star-studded cosmic cast including members of Mushroom, ST 37, The Moor, Quarkspace, Melodic Energy Commission, Inner City Unit, Mooch, Primordial Undermind, plus Daevid Allen, Carl "Nomuzic" Howard, and others.
Among the highlight tracks is "Second Degree Soul Sparks" which has spoken word by Calvert, Daevid, and Thom the World Poet, plus a banquet of space synths that are both ear piercing and heavenly, droning didgeridoo, and trippy rockin' guitar from Daevid Allen and Judge Trev. A nice cosmic opening track. "New Spell" is a trio of Daevid's gliss guitar, Michael Clare on bass, and Don Falcone giving a dancey drum 'n bass groove to the music.
Beautiful cosmic space and tripped out beats. "Clear Audient" has a classic prog rock feel, particularly due to Kenneth Magnusson's mellotron and Judge Trev's delectably tasty guitar licks. Like Steve Hackett playing with King Crimson. "Hidden Rope Trick" has some nice tasty space guitar from Daevid Allen. "Eye = I" is a Mushroom led track. Tribal, bluesy jam rockin'... it's about the rawest and most rollicking music I've heard from the Mushroom clan yet. I really liked Jerry Jeter's vocals on the most recent Spaceship Eyes CD and am glad to hear him singing here on "Intelligent Sparkling Fish" and "Walking Shadow."
"Gods At The Top Of The World" and "Elliptical Orbits (Over and Out)" are the two lengthy tracks on the CD. The former starts as a raw space rockin'tune, and then transitions to a jazzy space jamming piece by the members of Mushroom. I like the way Judge Trev 's heavier guitar sound works with Mushroom. Continual AM radio voice samples contrast with the cosmic space, horns, guitars, and synths to make for a freaked out jam. Half of "Elliptical Orbits (Over and Out)" consists of heavy driving spacey prog rock. I really like the combination of Daevid Allen's guitar and Teed Rockwell's Chapman Stick. The other half is a rant from Thom the World Poet, a charismatic and inspiring artist whom I've had the pleasure of hearing several times as M.C. at the Strange Daze festivals and Quarkstock 2000 festival. Good choice for a closing track.
In summary, Spirits Burning is a testament to what people can accomplish working together to create without being hindered by distance. It's clear that several of these tracks include contributions coming from multiple directions and there are lots of examples of contrasts that ended up working well together. Kudos to Don Falcone for assembling it all into a wonderfully coherent whole. Come here to experience the true depth of space..."
--Jerry Kranitz Aural Innovations
Reflections In A Radio Shower "If the first one was a runaway success supergroup project, this one is, if anything, even better....... To fill you in, the idea is that the mastermind musician behind the project, Don Falcone, plays musical phrases and ideas onto DAT, gives that to a musician who adds more and then passes that on to someone else and - lo! - the tracks are created. The list of participants could hardly be more impressive: Daevid Allen (Gong), Karen Anderson (Psi Club), Robert Calvert (Hawkwind - sampled), Michael Clare (Daevid Allen's University Of Errors), Knut Gerwers (The Moor), Carl Howard (Bron To Go), Kenneth Magnusson (The Moor), Mushroom, Roger Neville-Neil (Farflung+Hawkwind lyric writer), ST 37, Stephen Palmer (Mooch, Blue Lily Commission, Spaceship Mooch), Doug Pearson (Primordial Underground, Dogbreath, Mushroom) Neil Pinnock (Mooch), Trevor Thoms (Nik Turner's Inner City Unit), Paul Williams (Quarkspace, National Steam), Pete Wyer (Mooch), Don Xaliman (Melodic Energy Commission) and more.
Musically, we're talking quality and range, breadth and class, dimension and expansion. With 16 tracks and more line-ups than you can shake a stick at, detailed reviewing is a pleasure but I don;t have the space here, so let me say that the album opens with a four minute piece that features a Calvert spoken intro, Hendrix sample, a dual guitar lead from Allen/Thoms, '72-era Gong-like bass, swirling synths from Palmer in an early Hawkwind-y style, plus bass, samples, and more to create a brooding piece of psychedelia-meets-Kraut/Space Rock with a '73 atmosphere and one steaming gem of an opener. The four minutes plus, of track two is a languid slice of space-ambience-meets-'72-era Gong with some gorgeous guitar work from Allen over the loping bassline from Clare around and behind which the synths, samples and percussion from Falcone, fill out the mix to create one sensational, slowly rhythmic ambient instrumental masterpiece.
Track three features no less than ten players, including a reading from Calvert ('Centigrade 232'), another Gong-style bass line, a single-line chorus and the whole thing feels like a mix of classic space-rock/psych ambience with classic early seventies Gong, as Falcone, Howard, Palmer, Jerry Jeter on lead guitars, Pinnock, Anderson & ST37 create a sparkling array of layers, melodies and textures. Track four is a three minute instrumental that revolves around keyboards, the treatment of said keyboards, guitars, bass and drums, coming over as a slightly dark but rhythmic piece that echoes the sadly unrecorded Laswell group Zu that transmutated into Material, and hints of Eno tracks around the "Another Green World/Apollo" periods. Track five features an almost King Crimson-like lineup with bass, keys, mellotron, Chapman stick, electric guitar and drums, while musically has hints of "Clear Light Symphony" as much as anything (if you know that classic album) with some splendid work from all the musicians including Magnusson, Clare, Thoms, Williams, Falcone & Teed Rockwell on the Stick. The three minute track six is a piece composed and largely played by Mushroom, remixed by Falcone, with added mellotron way up front from Magnusson, and short it may be, but total class it certainly remains, a sort of laid-back jazzy, proggy ambience. Track seven features Allen sounding for all the world like Robert Wyatt on the wordless vocals and then just like his old familiar self on the actual song, while his lead guitar cascades down like slow-motion rain showers, as Falcone, Pearson & Palmer provide the synths backdrop on the shade-under three minute slice of ambient/Gong-like magic.
Track eight is an eleven minute job, with the lion's share of the work from Mushroom, Pearson & Falcone, guitar from Thoms and a quite epic composition that starts with solid percussive rhythms and phased almost Neu-like guitars, drops to a melting pot of samples, loops and keys all really spacey/atmospheric as the band begins the main body of the piece with solid layers of samples, hot guitar figures, as much textural as melodic, a laid-back series of echoed guitar/synth lines and a track that is now slowly progressing on some kind of vast intergalactic voyage, as assorted sounds, landscapes, layers and textures pass by, all so psychedelic but in a very spacey manner. Gradually it picks up steam to turn into one giant cauldron of guitars, keys, samples, synths, drums, bass and trombone, the individual instruments almost being indistinguishable in the molten musical soup that is unfolding gloriously around your ears, altogether one stunning piece of musical creation. Track nine at a touch over six minutes includes no less than sixteen participants, sounding for all the world like some lost gem from an early Amon Duul album with drums, guitars, bass, percussion and flute creating that all-important early seventies Krautrock-esque atmosphere as guitars shoot off and drums/percussion provide the solid rhythmic backdrop, with a hint of very early Can in there too.
The next six tracks last between one and a half and four and a half minutes each, with assorted line-ups, some absolutely cracking psychedelic-space-Krautrock music that mirrors the feel of what has been heard up to now and is every bit as riveting listening, the longest track being the one song featuring a hugely expansive backing from guitars, synths, keys and drums, the three lead guitarists being Thoms, Joel Crutcher & Mark Stone. While the just under two minutes of track fifteen are thoroughly chilled out featuring Falcone, Palmer & Xaliman on synths plus Rockwell on Chapman Stick, all so wondrous and you wish there could have been a lot more of this one, as you do for much of the rest I have to say. Finally, the last track, at eleven minutes, features Allen, Anderson, Clare, Falcone, Rockwell, Wyer & Thom The World Poet, is an instrumental piece that is the album's most psychedelic gem with the guitars, synths, Stick, drums, bass creating a sort of ambient-psych-Crimso style melting pot of textures, swirling leads, expansive backdrops, textural subtleties, and again, a chilled-out ambience that is almost unique to what is essentially a rock band at work.
Totally satisfying it has a spacious quality to it all, as ever totally demanding your full attention - and getting it with interest. Overall, this is a seamless, class and 200% quality album that is a masterpiece of creation, will be satisfying listening for years to come, easily eclipses the first one (and THAT was a gem) and can quite easily be said to be genuinely an essential purchase for a wide variety of music fans ac ross an equally large stylistic range. It's consistent, enjoyable, brilliantly assembled and produced, and throughout, it sounds like each musician was present in the studio on each track concerned. It just doesn't come any better than this."
--Andy G (Dead Earnest)
New Worlds By Design
New Worlds By Design "Sometimes I lose track of exactly what I have in my collection. CDs can lie around for months before I dig them out and put them on the CD player. Such was the Spirits Burning CD New Worlds By Design.
What was this? Why was it sat in my collection?
I had a look at the credits - and it all came rushing back to me. Spirits Burning was a project created by Master Ambience himself, Don Falcone - he of Spaceship Eyes and a plethora of other projects. And the accompanying cast reads like a Who's Who of Psychedelic Rock. First up, the Gongmeister, Mister Daevid Allen. Also check in the ubiquitous Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tee, No man, etc. And special appearances by former Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney and Pressurehed's Thomas Grenas. Add elements of various of today's top psych-rock bands including Anubian Light, DarXtar, Melting Euphoria, NemeSis, Pressurehed, Quarkspace and SubArachnoid Space - as well as Don's own Spaceship Eyes touring band, and you have a line-up which makes Live Aid look like a village fete!
And the music What music! The harmony of the spheres teleported to Tibet on back of some rather large silver machine. Everyone has brought their own sounds with them, and rather than try to use their skills to forge a new sound, they have melding elements of everything into one large CD-shaped psych-rock mosaic. Basically, if you like your music with extra Gliss and Celestial Synths - you need go no further!
And as a result, the range in styles across the tracks is vast. On one hand, you get the very Spaceship Eyes-influenced ambience like the opening track Solar Campfires with its sound effects and minimal melodies. Compare that to the space rockiness of Arcturus featuring Thomas Grenas. This is pure riffing guitars and bubbling synths and could easily have come from one of the 1970s Hawkwind albums. And change again, and you get the guitar-heavy, but very Mother Gong-sounding The Unknown. Each track is different, and as a result you end up with a melded compilation of the best of contemporary space rock.
My favourite track is possibly Beautiful Stealth, In A Church, which is Daevid Allen at his best. A hoarsely whispered Gongish poem overlays some gorgeously ambient effects - and I love the imagery describing Bond Bergland's Stealth guitars because that describes it so well! I say 'possibly' my favourite, because each time I listen to this album, something new crops up in a track I previously missed; after all there are seventeen tracks here - it's easy to overlook one.
Also worth a mention are The Ticking Of Science and The Eagle Has Landed, as this is where Steve Wilson and Malcolm Mooney respectively guest. Ticking was initially a bit of a disappointment, although to be honest, you can never predict what Mr.Wilson is going to come up with next. I kinda hoped for some scorchingly ambient guitar solos - but instead the guitars are rather low-key. At over 13 minutes though. This is twice as long as any of the other tracks, and even without extended guitar solos, it is incredibly effective. I must remember was Mr Hillage said - not a guitar hero; a guitar zero. The Eagle is a bit of cheat really. Rather than being a joint effort, it is merely a Malcolm Mooney & The 10th Planet track licensed for inclusion of this CD. Mooney fans will already know it - and to be honest, I don't think it fits here - it is obviously rawer and lacks Don's soothing touch; as a result it stands out amidst sixteen other ambient tracks. And as for Daevid Allen, well he features on seven of the tracks, and is pretty obvious on all. Would you expect anything else?
The best way to describe this album would be as a musical barbecue in Don Falcone's back garden. He invites everyone he knows to come along - and bring a vibe. Everyone turns up, throws their vibes in with Don's (after all, as a good host, you are expected to make sure you have enough vibes for everyone!) and everyone mucks in. And like all good barbecues - it doesn't rain, the neighbours don't call the cops, and the vibes last long into the night. I just hope they all hung around and helped clean up afterwards!" -- Frank Blades, Alternative View, February, 2001
New Worlds By Design "... New Worlds By Design is the first full-length album by Spirits Burning. (Don) Falcone used the Internet to create this debut CD; he asked around for contributions to his project and got a massive response; musicians from US psych bands like Melting Euphoria, Pressurehed, Anubian Lights, Farflung, Zero Gravity, The Brain, Spiral Realm, Quarkspace/National Steam, F/i, Subarachnoid Space, Quiet Celebration and Saqqara Dogs offered their assistance, but also people like Daevid Allen and Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Scandinavian groups like DarXtar, The Moor and NemesiS contributed to the making of this CD. Falcone wrote or co-wrote songs and used the Internet possibilities of digital music transfer to create 17 tracks (77 min), each bearing the distinct mark of their composers and/or performers. Not every track is an instant classic but the majority of this versatile brew of '70s-'90s psych rock and ambient electronics is very much OK and offers enjoyable listening to anybody into the modern electronic side of rock. Check it out." -- Crohinga Well
New Worlds By Design "Perhaps Musea's best kept secret, Spirits Burning is ex-Melting Euphoria/Spaceship Eyes/Thessalonians Don Falcone's latest 'band.' . . . The material here generally falls in an area between space rock, electronica, experimental, and psychedelic - all working together in varying degrees, resulting in an interesting recipe that offers a good sense of variety, but also has a definite purpose and direction. . . . New Worlds By Design has a far more aggressive rock-based perspective punctuated by flourishes of electronics and psychedelica. . . . Challenging and experimental, yet remarkably accessible, this disc should appeal to those into the Hawkwind/Neo-Psych axis with a thirst for forward-looking ideas. Recommended."
-- Peter Thelan, Exposé #20, October, 2000
New Worlds By Design "The brainchild of Don "Spaceship Eyes" Falcone, Spirits Burning began life in 1986 as a band and has cropped up in recent years on a few Cleopatra tribute CD's and in concert. In 1998 Don sent out invitations to numerous spacerock musicians to join in a group project that in most cases involved Don sending out tapes that the various participants added to. And looking at the lineups on each track it's clear that many of these tapes traveled between more than two points. The result has got to be one of the most ambitious projects of 1999. It is, as Don describes it, "A Gathering in Space."
Among the many esteemed contributors are Daevid Allen, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, members of Can, DarXtar, Quarkspace, Farflung, F/i, SubArachnoid Space, Melting Euphoria, plus various other contributors. There are 17 tracks running a full 76 minutes and the music runs the gamut from spaced out drum 'n bass to full blown heavy Hawkwind-styled spacerock. Getting too deeply into each track is impossible but I'll single out a few of my favorites that cover the stylistic range on the CD.
By Design, Arcturus, and Snakebite Serum are the heavy spacerockers represented on the set. By Design is a potent space power rocker with crunchy guitar from Joe Diehl pumped up by the keyboard combo of Don on organ and Paul Williams (Quarkspace) on Prophecy. Arcturus is a heavy spacerocker from Len Del Rio and Tommy Grenas (both of Pressurehed, Farflung, Anubian Lights, and more). And Snakebite Serum is a fast-paced rocker with blazing guitar from K. Soren Bengtsson (DarXtar), along with saxes, tablas, and a heavy keyboard backbone.
There are also numerous soundscape atmospheric pieces on this CD, though they are far from being simple floating electronica. In nearly every case the music has numerous layers of synths and spacey guitars which add a bit of complexity to the dreamy environment. Beautiful Stealth, In A Church includes several contributors that create an aural collage of sound using mostly synths, but also Daevid Allen on gliss guitar and Knut Gerwers reciting a freeform style of poetry. The Ticking Of Science is partly a Tangerine Dreamy soundscape work, but includes drum 'n bass beats and loads of bleeping freaky synth sounds. At 13 minutes it gets to stretch out a bit and continually changes direction and rhythms. Smart Messages In The Sand is another track that grabbed me with its techno beat, many layers of synths, and gorgeous soaring guitar.
The disc also includes a few song-oriented tracks. Secret Invention is an electro-pop tune that is as complex as it is simplistically toe-tapping. Speak To The Wind has a New Wave rockin' feel with a thudding bassline and loads of freaky space sounds. And The Unknown is a heavy rocker with dual smoking guitars and Karen Anderson on vocals.
Finally, Arc - A Real Creeper, is an atmospheric piece with gliss guitar and poetry from Daevid. Don had told me earlier about how Daevid Allen was at his home and found his college thesis of poetry on the shelf and just started reciting from it. The result is a freaky but floating tune that serves as a fitting close to this fine collection.
In summary, there is something for all spacerockers on this collection. A true spacerock supergroup effort that combines a variety of talents. Gazul is a sub-label of Musea and your best bet for obtaining it in the USA is through Wayside Music."
-- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations, January, 2000, Number 9
New Worlds By Design "The brainchild of American musician and Spaceship Eyes main man, Don Falcone, this is a project whereby pieces of music or single phrases or just solo excerpts of all the tracks were started by Falcone and the tapes then sent all round the world to the musicians, asking for them to make contributions to the track, from excerpts to the whole track, in many cases. The amazing result of all this is not only a stellar line-up of musicians that will make your jaw-dropped in amazement, but a set of seventeen tracks in seventy-six minutes of which every one is so cohesive, flows so well, and delivered to perfection, so that you'd swear that on each track, all the participants had been in the studio at the time of recording.
Stylistically, it covers a wide amount of mostly instrumental ground from mainly instrumental space-rock, with nods to prog-rock, Krautrock and contemporary to wild prog-fusion and chilled-out acid-rock - virtually everything to make up a truly classy album that will have a massively wide appeal, built around a predominant instrumentation of drums, electric bass, electric guitars and synths on each track but almost all tracks possessing a huge, solid sound and production that places them firmly in the more prog/ Euro-/ jamming side of rock and space-rock, in the vein of classic jamming bands such as Ozrics, Tribe of Cro, yet here the whole thing is a lot more cohesive, less bombastic, less indulgent and more on-fire, full to the brim with original ideas, inspired playing and superb execution, editing, production and sound. But you'll hear some truly outstanding guitar work in particular, with some great spacey synths and on-fire rhythm section work from the likes of Gong's Daevid Allen, Don Falcone, Paul Fox, K. Soren Bengtsson, Pressurehed's Len Del Rio, Farflung's Tommy Grenas, Sub Arachnoid Space's Mason Jones, Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson and loads more, with Daevid Allen playing some fantastic electric guitar and glissando on quite a few of the longer tracks on the album, showing he can still play a mean guitar lead, while the penultimate track is written largely by and features Can's Malcolm Mooney.
Overall, it is a loud, exciting, mainly space-rock style project that is so much more than it seems in a review like this and you really should give it a chance whether you are into space-, prog- or psychedelic rock styles and want to hear something fresh, different, melodic, rhythmic, exciting, powerful and invigorating - every track is superb. To single out any particular contribution or to dissect each track would take more space than ever I've got here, so just indulge yourself in one awesome CD - a winner and no mistake." -- Andy G (Dead Earnest)
New Worlds By Design "Solar Campfires pushes drum'n'bass to its epileptic consequences, while the keyboards sustain mechanical patterns in the vein of industrial music and doodle in the vein of Morton Subotnick's electronic dadaism. By Design detonates the electronic fabric with a bluesy, hard-rock riff which develops into a full-fledged, dense and pounding, Hawkwind-style, space-rock suite.
The horror riff that propels Arcturus, the pow-wow dance of Triquetrium Delight, the techno torpedo of Avatar 444, not to mention Suicide-like threnodies and free-form noise suites, are the highlights of a diverse collection that, with a little more self-control, could have rivaled Brian Eno's Before And After Science for the digital generation." -- Piero Scaruffi
"Ace of Spades" from compilation Sheep in Wolves' Clothing CD
". . . 'Ace of Spades' like you ain't never heard. Odd grooving spacey lounge ambient and tribal percussion rocking." -- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations #40
"If you have a half decent hi-fi system, (which I don't, but I heard these tracks several times in Studio 42), Don Falcone's Production on this is fabulous, he uses every bit of space available between the two speakers; knockout! For anyone who never thought they'd hear a 'different' version of 'Spades,' well, this is about as 'different' as we'll ever get!" -- Alan Burridge, from Interview on Jimmy's Motörhead blog, April 12, 2008
"Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart get to grips with that Motörhead brand anthem, 'Ace Of Spades' and produces a whammy bar overload that would not be out of place as a teaser for a David Lynch bar-room scene but without the bad trip!" -- Jimmy, Motörhead blog, April 11, 2008
"Wilder Beams of Moon" from (Dead Earnest) compilation Psytrax II
"From the forthcoming Found in Nature album by the international Spirits Burning project we get to hear an instrumental called "Wilder Beams of Nature." I hope the whole album sees a release date soon, at last... this sounds very promising!" -- Psychrotropic Zone
"High Rise" from Godreah Records compilation Daze of The Underground, A Tribute to Hawkwind
"Don Falcone's Spirits Burning project take on 'High Rise', again retaining the feel and tone of Calvert but the arrangement turning into this smouldering slice of synths, awesome rivers of slow-running bass, tight and crisp drum work, as its decelerated nature gives the track a whole new lease of life, a makeover that really works, the synths becoming the lead focus rather than guitars, as the expansive arrangement fills every part of the sonic panorama to exquisite effect. Then, just over four minutes in, this magnificent guitar solo just erupts from the speakers and takes you to a heaven you never knew existed - simply awesome and another 100% slice of magic that will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck." -- Andy G. (Dead Earnest)