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The Spacelords — Unknown Species
(Tonzonen TON116, 2021, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-08-09

Unknown Species Cover art

With Unknown Species, The Spacelords continue their exploration of space rock riffs. As on their previous three releases (2016’s Liquid Sun, 2017’s Water Planet, and 2020’s Spaceflowers), the album features a side-long track paired with two shorter tracks that combine to fill the other LP side. This time out, they open with the shortest tune. “F.K.B.D.F.” doesn’t take long to get into its groove, an energetic mid-tempo one-chord jam with echoing guitar lines and slowly phasing synthesizers. Their stock in trade is building up a repeated part until just the right time, then hitting you with a change, in this case a section that moves up to a different chord. Their music places them somewhere near the midpoint between Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, and they are truly the lords of this space. There’s lots of guitar work with wah-wah, echo, and other effects, but it’s mostly presented as integral to the compositions rather than lengthy improvised solos. The title track slows things down a bit, taking a bit longer to build up. “Time Tunnel” starts out quietly with a finger-picked guitar, maybe a little reminiscent of something Pink Floyd might have done in the days of Atom Heart Mother or Meddle. Over the first six minutes, this section ramps up in intensity without losing its basic identity, then Mellotron-like strings come in to herald a heavier section. The band masterfully works through a series of changes to top 20 minutes without descending into self-indulgence or static repetition. I expect most space rock fans are already aware of this band, but for any that aren’t, Unknown Species is a fine example of the form.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): The Spacelords

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