Reviews of Spaceship Eyes
and related projects




Spaceship Eyes


Other related projects of Don Falcone


Quiet Celebration



Spirits Burning

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." -- Audion


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


Trap


Melting Euphoria


Thessalonians


Spice Barons


UFA


Heavenly Music Corporation


Various Compilations