Scottish Space Race by The Cosmic DeadRelease date: September 27, 2019
Label: Riot Season Records
After asserting that psych was indeed dead on their last album (although slightly rebuffing this with the following Psych is Live release), one may just ask where The Cosmic Dead may set their sights on next and it is with no wonder at all, given their past credentials, that it is indeed, to space. Not just any space either, and don’t start to get all in a quiver about inner space, man, and all that Hawkwind jazz. Nope, this is good old space, and added to that some good old Scottish space. In fact, it is no less than the Scottish Space Race.
An unusual album title, for unusual times you may think, and with a changing of the guard taken place within Cosmic Dead circles, it’s as good a time to change their sound. The first release to feature new members Tommy Duffin (drums) and Russell Andrew Gray (lap-steel synthesizer), the album may rest on its elongated four tracks, but instead of the drawn out dub space rock epics, they have hit the button saying feisty space rock with a side order of tongue in cheek insanity. As if the band had discovered Red Bull and imbibed in copious amounts, they turn the pace up to 11. the sound up to forever, and get their own bass player Omar Aborida to work his producer magic. Never has a Cosmic Dead album been so much fun to listen to.
Inauspiciously starting with a long drone, ‘Portal’ begins its slow ascent as the mad scientists within the band conjure up all manner of ferocious explosions from their instruments. The pattern of the drums picking up the tempo, leading us into the chanted vocals (yes, vocals!) which conjure images of rockets blasting off into space, some exploding, others simply dropping out of the sky, the band’s own rocket beating everyone to the pulse. It’s a mite more interesting than that other race for space from Public Broadcasting Service, although lets not split hairs as we are talking gargantuan psych here.
As if ‘Portal’ wasn’t enough to melt your sense, this is just the start of the mind-frying journey. ‘Ursa Major’ may start quietly enough but before long its rampaging a hole across your skull in true colossal space rock fashion. At nigh on 20 minutes its got time before it takes you exactly to that point though, and the delightful Garcia style guitar provides an interesting diversion into jam rock as the Cosmic Dead become, well… become The Dead. It’s a neat touch but don’t hang on that thought too long as before you know it the tempo has picked up and the band are careening off on some hitherto never travelled path of rampant 70’s prog rock.
There are no unusual diversions into jam band and prog rock on next track ‘Scottish Space Race’. Oh no, this is the point where your head leaves your shoulders as the music pummels your senses into oblivion. Part space rock, part hardcore punk, all fucking psych, this is the centrepiece of a quite extraordinary album. It shocks at first, especially for the long time listener, but after a few listens it sits well as one of the best tracks they have ever done. Hell, fuck it, this is the best damn album they have ever done, and a shoo-in for best psych album of the year, surely. We’ll see, but it’ll take some beating.
After destroying your senses with the stupendous title track, The Cosmic Dead leave you for dead (pun intended) with the gloriously heavy ‘The Grizzard’. Another epic of monstrous proportions, it’s a fitting end to an album which never ceases in its attempt to redefine your idea of what this band are actually about. Whilst all the classic tropes remain, they are hidden beneath a surface of extraordinary noise as they turn up their amps to LOUD. Rarely putting a foot wrong, here they simply explode in a cavalcade of noise which rewrites just what this band are about. That it is so much fun is just an added bonus. This album is simply fierce in its delivery, and a wake up call to all other space rock bands out there.
Listen to ‘Scottish Space Race’ in full below ahead of its September 27th release date: