Earthless - Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky (Tee Pee) by Keith Boyd 5.24.7
Like some giant nuclear reactor plugged into a Marshall stack and cranked up way past 11, Earthless rocks it out! Seeing them live is a revelation. The volume and intensity melt eyeballs and brainstems by the droves. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell wrings and strangles squalls of feedbacking space skronk from his strat and echoplex. Mike Eginton lays out the hypnotic bass rumble and thunder but at the very burning heart of this beast lies Mario Rubalcaba on the drums. He is the fire breathing, molten lava flow that moves the group along. I've never seen such intensity and commitment applied to a set of drums before. Just when you think that he must have given it all he could have the pace picks up again and it's another flurry of hair and flailing arms and sweat. The shocker is that amidst all of the speed there is a deadly accuracy and precision at work. Given the power of their live attack is it any wonder that a CD might pale in comparison? The dynamic interplay between the live space, the group mind and the adrenalin all make it a nearly impossible experience to encode on disc. This was evident on their first recorded outing, "Sonic Prayers". While that release had its moments the over all impact was a somewhat diminished return between expectations and reality. The whole affair just wasn't as highly evolved as when you heard them live. It was still a worthy effort mind you. It laid out the sonic blueprint of Hawkwind meets Blue Cheer meets Sabbath meets "fill in the blank" Kraut Rock group while not succumbing to mere idol worship. On their new disc, "Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky" they've upped the ante considerably and if you ever get fed up with your mundane, gravity-bound existence just slide it in the player and crank it up. You'll be reaching escape velocity in no time.
The first track, "Godspeed" starts off with a furious lift off of crashing cymbals and Sci-Fi splatter buzz all under pinned with a low end bass drone for a carpet. I find it somehow comforting this raw nerve sound. It goes on for a good three minutes and to my mind could have gone on for another twenty! But go on it does not. This herald of space rock to come is met with a pummeling anti-gravity riff that chugs along with all the power and evil grace of Ming the Merciless reaching out to crush Flash Gordon. At times this riff leans in to an Iron Maiden like precision. However given the punk and extreme music background of the musicians it never strays too far into pure self-indulgence. There is an edge here and that edge is what maintains interest and propels the forward momentum. I like that the tracks are all long. As the band Subaracnoid Space said, "These things take time". This length gives the cosmonauts of Earthless a chance to spread their wings and develop some nuanced passages, adding to the density and complexity of their music. In the grand tradition of Prog bands everywhere track number two is the title of their last disc ("Sonic Prayer") which didn't include that as a track. It's one of those more nuanced segments mentioned above and it a real winner. The slower tempo really highlights the hypnotic quality of the bass playing. That bass wraps around your head like a magic carpet and sends you on your way. All of the frontal scrawl and scree becomes some glorious play of tonality while that damn bass just rocks you in the best way possible. Their cover of the British Power-Blues band "The Groundhogs" song "Cherry Red" is a winner as well. Might this first inclusion of vocals be a portent of things to come? Given how tastefully they were done it could work. I kind of hope they keep it to the minimum though. I love their epic instrumental space rock so much that it would be a shame to lose one of the best purveyors to mere songs. So tune in, turn on, drop out, strap on your jet pack, load your laser gun and smile. We're lifting off to the COSMIC SKY and Earthless are at the controls.