Zond001 - Combat Astronomy - Dreams no longer hesitate
A second slice of jazz prog sludge heaviness, but taken this time to a new level of structural and textural sophistication with the addition of fantastic vocals from Elaine di Falco.
James Huggett - Bass guitar, drums, keys, electronics & programming
Martin Archer - Saxophones, clarinets, recorders, electronics
Elaine di Falco - Vocals
Mick Beck - Bassoon
Mike Ward - Flute and bass flute
The avant rock outfit Combat Astronomy confronts the delicate and ethereal with the harsh and bent. The music - mostly built around low-end rhythms that carry the menacing, beastly timbers of extreme metal (think Meshuggah in slow motion) - hybrids the Nuevo Metal and soundscape textures of the new millennium's King Crimson with the third stream music of Magma, only with less of the repetitiveness and a more restrained vocal approach. This second full length release finds Combat Astronomy augmented with the talent of Elaine di Falco (of Caveman Shoestore / Hughscore). Her vocals - often utilized as a tool equivalent to the other musical instruments - add a trippy side to the tense music. In particular, the ingenuity of her cyclic, loopy performance on "Touch The Moon" cannot be overstated, as it adds a mesmerizing yet bizarre, contemporary R&B effect to an otherwise chilling composition already rich with luscious vocals, intimidating organ strokes and trapping beats. Another album highlight is "Alive Inside Eternity." This instrumental track starts with a cacophony of rhythms and reeds, somewhat evoking a trip to the zoo, where elephants, birds and predators rival. Organ notes then supply a frame for the creatures to join voices, leading to a more disciplined, jazzy section which sounds like a 21st century adaptation of Soft Machine (in its "Fourth" / "Fifth" manifestation). Like on most of the album, bandleader Jamie Huggett's bass is vibrating, bouncy and distorted - sounding like a machine that is about to crush or swallow anything that comes its way; and in accordance with the overall tones of Combat Astronomy the bass echoes with nearly infrasonic vibes, as if to suggest there's more here than we can conceive. "Dreams No Longer Hesitate" delivers its occurrences via a slightly dark, sustained and twisted mood rather than via a direct, storming assault; as a result, it is a bit sluggish and depressive at times. Nevertheless, the album is full of curiosities and is definitely one of the most refreshing releases of 2008! - Avi Shaked
Terrific album from this heavy zeuhl/brutal prog, project, led by bassist James Huggett. This has all the things that made their first album a clear winner with one additional secret weapon: Elaine di Falco, the magnificent singer of Hughscore, who appears on the entire album and adds a striking, cool touch to what is otherwise a blazing and white hot album. Highly recommended. Really!
Three years after the ground breaking and critically acclaimed 'The Dematerialised Passenger', transatlantic progressive jazz outfit Combat Astronomy return with 'Dreams No Longer Hesitate', their third full length album. An epic disc of inspired and multidimensional modern music, 'Dreams No Longer Hesitate' builds on influences such as the avant prog-rock of Magma and space jazz of Sun Ra, incorporating elements of the sophisticated mathematical grind of bands like Meshuggah and Godflesh while retaining a unique and coherent voice that is entirely its own. Elaine di Falco (Caveman Shoestore/Thinking Plague) brings an intimate, ethereal and impassioned vocal presence that has a remarkable synergy with the guttural down-tuned bass guitars of Combat Astronomy lynchpin James Huggett. Di Falco's voice melds into breathtaking harmonies that swirl above the thunderous and serpentine rhythm section of Martin Archer, Mick Beck and Mike Ward. Stars of the British underground improv/jazz scene, Archer, Beck and Ward return with searing, pin-sharp horn work that varies from baying ensemble insanity to delicate, exotic textures. By turns wilder and more refined than its predecessor, 'Dreams No Longer Hesitate' is emotional, ambitious and strangely moving. From the engaging and disturbing opener of 'Lightning in her eyes' to the transcendent, blissful closing song 'Ordinary Miracles', the work is intended as a literal movement from one state of consciousness to another, each section carefully framed within the holistic structure. 'Dreams No Longer Hesitate' speaks Combat Astronomy's distinct, clear and powerful voice in a language that gains power and inertia with every release. - WAYSIDE MUSIC
A couple years back, we raved about a disc called The Dematerialized Passenger, the first album from this unique band (or perhaps we should say project), remember? In case you don't, here's the deal: Combat Astronomy are a USA/UK collaboration, creating a crushing industrial/jazz/prog hybrid. Imagine Godflesh with a free improv horn section, saxophones squealing amidst the metallic riffage. Or Scorn taking a skronked-out stab at chamber music. Like their earlier release, this new Combat Astronomy opus is again laced with punishing, rigid drummachine beats, along with heavy, uber-low-end fretless bass shaking each song with doomic distortion. Which establishes an absurdly heavy context for sax, clarinet, flute and bassoon to freak out organically, like wild weeds creeping through cracks in giant slabs of concrete, on the floor of an abandoned factory somewhere.
But unlike their all-instrumental debut, this time Combat Astronomy have recruited a female vocalist, Elaine di Falco, who also plays some piano, to add yet another unusual dimension to their mashup of extremes, now reminding us slightly of James Plotkin's now forgotten post-Old project Flux. (Hmm, maybe Kayo Dot and later Ulver could be other comparisons now too.) If the addition of her vocals makes this a bit more overtly melodic, it's still no less extreme overall. And certainly just as intricate, her delicate vocal arrangements in themselves quite complex, multi-tracked, as on the urban R&B influenced (???? no, we're crazy) "Touch The Moon" and the album's whispery coda, "Ordinary Miracles". And the focus of CA is still on the ominous grooves, ambient electronics, and battling horn bleats... tracks like "Alive Inside Eternity" and "Sentinel" are lengthy epics (12:36 and 16:49, respectively) of serious beats and blats and skree, in the challenging, compelling, militant manner to which actually only Combat Astronomy can truly lay claim. The vocals, when present, then take it into another, equally unlikely, atmospheric realm of twisted prog-pop. Pretty darn cool! - AQUARIUS
Combat Astronomy is in its essence the art project (or perhaps the audiovision) of James Huggett who composes, produces and handles bass, guitar, electronics and programming. Hugget has a load of various and seemingly contrasting influences, for example from mathematical minimalism, noise, extreme metal, Zeuhl and free jazz, and he joins a spectre of similar diffuse style as the one we find in the circle surrounding people like Dunn/Spruance (Trio Convulsant, Secret Chiefs 3) and groups like Flying Luttenbachers, Zu, Mute Socialite and others. This is both technically and theoretically very demanding music with roots in trained contemporary music rather than in rock as such, but these concepts still have experienced an increasing support on the alternative scene. The Dematerialised Passenger came in 2005 and presents Hugget's philosophy clearly. The rhythmics are based on counterpoint and is framed by tight, small and quite often heavy tonal themes which are processed drone-like through a repetitive texture. On top of these layers, the three other musicians develop a free role, Martin Archer (sax, bass clarinet, violin), Mike Beck (bassoon) and Charlie Collins (flute), all of whom are known from a variety of constellations. In sum, this album is a set of sharp sound sculptures that tear and hypnotize (for example the transition between "Orion" and "Sulphur"), but which in the end remain on a demonstration level. Extremely clever as as beginner's attempt, but lacking the decisive authority. The authority is a lot stronger on Dreams No Longer Hesitate, not least owing to the fact that Huggett introduces vocals. It is not added as an outer layer, but is integrated in the strict tonal networks, and Huggett has got hold of the distinctive Elaine di Falco to perform the songs. Di Falco is best known as the front figure of Caveman Shoestore (which has also appeared with Hugh Hopper under the name Hughscore) where she navigates in a landscape between radical pop and modern jazz, but hearing her in this new and quite brutal context is quite a lesson! Her voice manages to smoothen out the staccato breaks with a melodic dimension which lacks in the earlier material, and this opens up for a more flexible sound production. Among the better releases this year! -TARKUS
This transatlantic outfit's third album sees them digging deeper into their unique seam of avant-Metal-Prog-jazz. As on 2005's The Dematerialised Passenger, the driving force is James Huggett's brutally down-tuned fuzz-bass hooked onto precise, bludgeoning drum patterns. It's a little like High Hopper sitting in with doom-stoners Om - and it's not the only thing that brings Soft Machine to mind. UK reedsman Martin Archer, a noted Softs acolyte, brings some of Elton Dean's versatility to the mix, spraying keening squeals and honks over the relentless trudge, occasionally flying into a sweet lyricism that's all the more affecting for its incongruence and, on the extended instrumental, 'Alive Inside Eternity', locking into syncopated charts with an odd, brittle funkiness that conjures skeleton warriors on the dance floor. The addition of vocalist, Elaine di Falco, brings another strange dimension: a kind of eyeliner-Gothic emotional delicacy, tucked inside Hugget's hefty riffs like a snow-white hand in a gore-spattered, chain-mail gauntlet. You won't hear another album like this all year. - Daniel Spicer, JAZZWISE
Three years after the ground breaking and critically acclaimed "The Dematerialised Passenger", transatlantic progressive jazz outfit Combat Astronomy return with \'Dreams No Longer Hesitate\', their third full length album.
An epic disc of inspired and multidimensional modern music, \'Dreams No Longer Hesitate\' builds on influences such as the avant prog-rock of Magma and space jazz of Sun Ra, incorporating elements of the sophisticated mathematical grind of bands like Meshuggah and Godflesh while retaining a unique and coherent voice that is entirely its own.
Elaine di Falco (Caveman Shoestore/Thinking Plague) brings an intimate, ethereal and impassioned vocal presence that has a remarkable synergy with the guttural down-tuned bass guitars of Combat Astronomy lynchpin James Huggett. Di Falco\'s voice melds into breathtaking harmonies that swirl above the thunderous and serpentine rhythm section of Martin Archer, Mick Beck and Mike Ward. Stars of theBritish underground improv/jazz scene, Archer, Beck and Ward return with searing, pin-sharp horn work that varies from baying ensemble insanity to delicate, exotic textures.
By turns wilder and more refined than its predecessor, \'Dreams No Longer Hesitate\' is emotional, ambitious and strangely moving. From the engaging and disturbing opener of \'Lightning in her eyes\' to the transcendent, blissful closing song \'Ordinary Miracles\', the work isintended as a literal movement from one state of consciousness to another, each section carefully framed within the holistic structure. - CD UNIVERSE