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It could be argued that Space Rock is the bastard offspring of Progressive Rock by those with a weakness for labeling, but when the former is put together with love and attention to detailas it is hereany argument is just a waste of valuable time.
Conceived as a tribute to the late Syd Barrett, the man who effectively led Pink Floyd throughout their most worthwhile period, the music draws upon a much broader tradition than that idea suggests. On the opening, title track the German band, Ash Ra Tempel stalks the fringes of the music like the most benign of spirits, although in this instance the music is relatively earthbound and not unsurprisingly different to the collective efforts of that trio. Guest Martin Archer's baritone lends no little amount to the music's distinct air and the core trio seem to know instinctively that the slightest degree of overplaying can have the effect of bringing the music down.
The howling guitar on "Better'r Day-s" however arguably flirts a little too intimately with the 'technique is all' school although the thing is redeemed somewhat by the subtle, shifting rhythmic underpinning. Suffice to say that even at almost twelve minutes the piece doesn't outstay its welcome.
It's no surprise at all that "Syd" most faithfully evokes the spirit of the album's dedicatee and in it the band shows just how aware they are of the rhythmic implications of his work. A far from subtle riff is refined out of all proportion to its limited utility and the result is space rock in name as well as deed and intent. The segue into the following "Emissary" is seamless and at almost nine minutes that piece is a model of the kind of fluid form in which individual instrumental contributions are constructively blurred to the point of indistinction.
In a sense the contradiction that what started out as Barrett's band became, a stadium rock band that dealt in melancholy, often angst-ridden music, has had the effect of setting the seal on the man's career. This, in turn, serves to throw the music on this disc into stark relief as a celebration of a moment in time in so many ways.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.