December 30, 2017

This year proved particularly difficult to narrow down a Top 25 because there were just so many great albums that came out in 2017. I started with a shortlist of 58! Ultimately, this list represents the albums I enjoyed the most this year; the albums that thrilled me, moved me and inspired me. There are always some albums that might have made the list, but that I just missed or haven't had the chance to listen to yet. But as of the end of this year, based on what I've been listening to through the year, these were my favourite releases for 2017.

25. Mark McDowell And Friends - Dark Weave
Groovy, psych/folk tunes from this UK artist. Very trippy at times.

24. Moonwagon - Devil's Labyrinth
These Finnish expl...

December 20, 2017

It’s been a good year for Earthling Society fans, with not one, not even two, but now three new releases that have come out in 2017. First it was the incendiary Zen Bastard, which featured both original material and a couple of new versions of old tracks, including the epic Kosmik Suite, originally from 2006’s Plastic Jesus and the Third Eye Blind. Then came Ascent to Godhead, that had everything from good old-fashioned space rock in the form of the spirited Can You Levitate? to the meditative Eastern influenced raga of its title track, and of course some epic guitar freakery on Electric Bou Saada. Now, just a couple of weeks before the new year, comes the high flying, down to earth Crooked Under Moonlight EP.

Croo...

December 10, 2017

On their first release, Retrofitting, Number Three Combo explored a sound utilizing acoustic instruments like guitar, flute and hand percussion, with occasional synth to create both folky songs and more cinematic style soundscapes, often with a Middle Eastern flavour. On their second album, 2016’s Solarium, they explored similar territory, but they replaced the acoustic guitar with synthesizers for a much more electronic album. For Resurfacing, which is their final release, Number Three Combo shake it up again, this time producing a more traditionally song based album, without sacrificing the elements developed on the first two recordings. Returning for this outing are ex-Black Sun Ensemble members Eric Johnson on...

June 23, 2017

Hot on the heels of their full-length album Horizones, Civilian Zen return with an EP 4 new tracks of dark dystopian, space rock. The title track is short, just two minutes, but it sets the mood with deep bass ambience and distant machine-like drones. Sir Veillance picks up on that vibe, slowly building over almost two more minutes of shadowy atmospheres before the heavy guitars kick in for a throbbing, swirling, swooshing mid-tempo rocker than drifts between deliriously chilling moments to almost dreamy passages. It’s quite effective. Altitude fuses more deep spacey moods this time with dance beats, shimmering electronics, and hypnotic guitar lines, again, finding that strange balance between dark and dreamy. And...

June 23, 2017

Blasting out of Northhampton, UK comes a new psychedelic trio in the form of The Paperweight Array. The EP Transmissions from a distant star is their debut release.

Things start off with a bang, almost as if we were coming in midway through the title track with a near anthemic chorus, no muss no fuss no introduction. It’s startling, but it sets the tone for what’s to come, and that’s three songs of well written, deftly played psychedelic pop rock. I hear echoes of Syd era Floyd, but the sound here is tighter, less out there, but not in a bad way. The songs are filled with catchy guitar hooks, soaring vocal melodies and gorgeous Byrds style harmonies. Second track, Going Back, does have some intriguing, quirky organ...

April 30, 2017

Poland’s More Experience first started playing together in the late 80’s/early 90’s with the idea to combine the early trippy Pink Floyd sound circa 1968/1969 with the electric intensity of Jimi Hendrix. They released their first album, From Acid Dreams, in 1997, and in 2004, they recorded their sophomore release, Follow Me. Here Follow Me’s been re-mastered and freshly released with some beautiful new psychedelic packaging.

Lead by Piotr Dudzikowski, who writes the music and plays most of the instruments on the album, Follow Me certainly does capture the sunny, patchouli scented vibe of that magical era, with vintage guitar and organ sounds and even some retro synths. References abound, especially early Pink Floyd...

March 7, 2017

When Sami Jokinen isn’t playing bass with Finnish space rock group Multishiva, he goes solo and explores a world of dark and bewitching psychedelic folk music. Occult Folk is his debut solo release. Through the course of the album, Jokinen weaves together traditional folk idioms with a modern rock consciousness, and takes some influences from the avant-garde and experimental realms of music, not to mention psychedelia. It makes for a unique and haunting journey.

From the very start, with The Other’s dissonant notes and strangely distorted vocals, one gets a sense that you’ve stepped off the map and entered an unknown world where dark figures murmur mysterious invocations to those who are ready to hear them. But the...

February 11, 2017

Number Three Combo is a trio of musicians from Tucson, Arizona consisting of Ex-Black Sun Ensemble members Eric Johnson (12 string acoustic guitar, keyboards and vocals) and Joe E. Furno (flute and vocals) along with Cobracalia’s percussionist Carl Hall (dumbek and acoustic percussion). Their 2015 album, Retrofitting, found the band creating lush Middle Eastern influenced tracks with a largely acoustic variety of instruments (guitar, flute, percussion) with the small addition of some synths and electronics for flavour. Now comes their follow up album, Solarium, but rather than repeating what they did on their debut, Number Three Combo have kept the same essential concept musically, but instead of an acoustic album...

January 31, 2017

Boston, Massachusetts trumpeter Eric Dahlman has had quite a varied career. Besides playing alongside late free jazz musician Hal Russell and his NRG Ensemble, Dahlman’s also performed with The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, The Travis Chandler Philharmonic, Auddity, The Calypso Invaders, Little Mystery, and others. Dahlman has also forged a solo career for himself, having released two albums to date, 2007’s Ripped Echo and 2016's Glacier.

Glacier is a vast canvas of aural paintings featuring ambient collages, chants, and sound effects, tied together by haunting meditative and often experimental jazz. It’s at times slow and chilling, like its namesake, at others, warm and spiritual in nature. Although there are individua...

January 24, 2017

Edgar Froese, the leader, and heart and soul of the band Tangerine Dream passed away on January 20th, 2015, just over two years ago. I wrote this short bit following just a few days after his passing, and today Facebook brought it up as a 'memory' for me. Reading it again, it reminded me of how much his death affected me, because Tangerine Dream's music meant so much to me growing up.

The album Exit was the first Tangerine Dream I ever heard. I was 16 years old in 1981 and had just started doing a radio show that summer at the university radio station. Exit came into our new release bin in September, this mysterious slab of vinyl by a band I had never heard of before. I pulled it out and was immediately intrigued b...

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Jeff Fitzgerald

is a writer, musician and broadcaster. He formerly hosted the radio shows

Electronic Realizations on CKMS-FM and Prog World and  River Gibbs FM. He wrote for 15 years for the webzine Aural Innovations. He is also one half of the space prog duo The Star Diaries, one half of the electronic music duo Systems of Wonder, and is part of the Arcturus Strange collective.

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© 2018 by Jeff Fitzgerald