Galasphere 347 by Galasphere 347Release date: July 20, 2018
Label: Karisma Records
Listening to Galasphere 347’s sole self-titled debut release via Karisma Records this year, I had no clue on what adventures I was about to embark on. But from the line-up that includes members from White Willow, Änglagård, Jaga Jazzist, Henry Fool, No-Man, Necromonkey, and The Opium Cartel to name a few, I decided to give this album a shot.
With the line-up that includes Jacob Holm-Lupo, Mattias Olsson, Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, and Stephen James Bennett, plus a little help from backing vocalist Akaba and conn trombonist Dave Scragg, the album was recorded from 2016 to 2017 at Dude Ranch Studio in Sandoya, Norway; Roth Handle Studios in Stockholm, Sweden; Chaos Studios in Norwich, England; and Wesserstudio in Norway.
Taken their name from the 1962 BBC children’s TV series Space Patrol, Galasphere 347 is this cross between symphonic, sci-fi, Canterbury, and parallel stories from the adult-illustrated fantasy magazine, Heavy Metal. The album has three tracks clocking in at 10 and 15-minutes. I have to say that after a few listens to their new album, this isn’t a bad album. Not so bad, but pretty good.
When you listen to ‘The Voice of Beauty Drowned’, the first minute and 37 seconds starts the album off with a nod to both the earlier days of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream before the synths change into the arrangements of Rush’s ‘The Camera Eye’ introduction as it delves into some incredible flute improvisations that Ketil does. The last four minutes is Mattias, Jacob, and the keyboards searching to find the last mysterious piece of the puzzle with some reminiscing of White Willow’s Ex-Tenebris thrown in.
I can hear some influential pop sounds that is very interesting and very calm before Jacob’s atmospheric guitar and trip-hop drum parts close the composition out. ‘The Fallen Angel’ is Stephen’s tip of the hat to Tim Bowness while the swirling synths and mellotron hit the walls very quickly before you look at your own reflection in the mirror to find out who you really are if you are real or just a piece of your own imagination.
At the 4 minute and 57-second mark, it delves into their nod of the Canterbury scene from the styles of Hatfield and the North, Camel, and early Caravan before the bass flies into a brief-second solo. Now I was not expecting Galasphere 347 to do something like that, but I liked the idea of showing that the Prog torch of the Canterbury scene isn’t burning out and continues to keep the flames going and never letting it hit the salty oceans.
The militant sections done by Olsson captures the questions and answers on why this person had to go and sacrifice himself to save others. The keyboards go into this intensive roller-coaster ride before the rhythm guitars ascend down to the streets of nowhere.
The closing track seems inspired by the 1968 sci-fi cult classic starring Jane Fonda, based on Jean-Claude Forest’s comics, where it continues the main heroine’s search to find her true love on ‘Barbarella’s Lover’. So she doesn’t know whether he’s the prince of the night or the singer from Sparks. But he will be Barbarella’s true love until the end of time.
The sound has this light-speeding adventures towards new planets that await our heroes. And then they head back again to the Canterbury planet once more to understand that it is still in Galapshere 347’s DNA. Now I have listened to their debut about three times now. This didn’t grab me that much.
Does this say it’s a bad album? Absolutely not. There are some okay moments on here, but I felt that it dragged in some parts. I wanted them to continue with the stories and go easy on the synthesized sequences.
That’s the only criticism I have with their debut release this year. What I hope for is that they can come back and do something better with the next release, in the next few years to come. This is not a bad album, but an okay album.