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Multi-instrumentalists and improvisational space rockers Quarkspace have recently presented inhabitants of the planet Earth with yet another 70 minute helping of tripped-out trance-inducing ambience with their newest release, Spacefolds 6. Sounding sort of like a mix between The Matrix Soundtrack and one of Robert Fripp’s “ProjeKcts,” Quarkspace fares quite successfully in this attempt at improvisational techno-tunes and marks a nice improvement (of 1) over their previous release Spacefolds 5.
Spacefolds 6 kicks off with the excellent “Sheep Farm” – a track that makes the most out of the band’s electronica fetish with some excellent programmed percussion loops. Sweeping keyboards interact with some great (but subtle) guitar work to produce a very strong opening track. As a matter of fact, “Sheep Farm” is such a good track that the band is unable to match its quality for the rest of the CD. Now that’s not to say at that the rest of Spacefolds 6 is bad by any means, it’s just that “Sheep Farm” is that good. “Sturm und Calm” is another solid track, starting off with an almost hectic drum pattern peppered with meandering keyboards, and gradually shifting into a relaxing and enjoyable slice of ambience that is sure to ease a heavy mind. Very nice, indeed.
Where Spacefolds 6 begins to fall apart a bit is in the tracks’ length. Most of the musical ideas put forth on this CD are quite interesting, and Quarkspace’s ability to successfully mix electronics with acoustics is formidable. However, most of the tracks drone on a bit longer than they should – 10 minute plus tracks such as “D.O.B.H. #1” and “Funkpalast at Brian’s Wormhole” simply are not interesting enough to warrant such lengths, and would’ve worked better as shorter improvs. Actually, “Funkplast...” is one that Quarkspace should’ve probably left off all together – it sounds like a Casio demo loop gone horribly wrong. In contrast the CD’s closer, “The Strangest String” (very clever boys), thankfully is an exception to this rule by actually staying interesting for its entire 13 minutes. So it’s not as if Quarkspace CAN’T write good 10-minute songs – it’s just that some of the ones on Spacefolds 6 aren’t them.
Those negative points aside, overall I found Spacefolds 6 to be a very enjoyable CD full of impressive improvisation and nice use of a wide range of acoustic instruments and digital sounds. I especially found the bass guitar to very effective in “Sturm und Calm” and the guitar work is solid throughout. If you’re a fan of Porcupine Tree-like space-rock, then go ahead and take a trip into Quarkspace with Spacefolds 6. You may not be traveling where no man has gone before, but you’ll probably have a nice time.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.