(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Iíve been a fan of the Canadian band Spaced Out for a few years now and I think the music offered here is undoubtedly fantastic but thereís something fishy about this release. The band is now a trio, apparently keyboardist Eric St. Jean is no longer with the band. Strange thing is that there are lots of keyboard parts here but they make no mention of any keyboard played. Iím not going to speculate as to what happened because it isnít mentioned in the liner notes or on the bandís website. It is rather odd that they would still play with the keyboard tracks. Iím not sure how they are doing it but it is quite surprising to hear and see (there is a video of one of the songs performed live included in the enhanced CD.) Regardless of how they are going about it, this is some incredible music.
The attendants at the Crescendo Music Festival in France were treated to an awesome show on August 18th 2006. Not only did they get the amazing Hamadryad but also another fine Quebec band in Spaced Out. Both performances are available on the Unicorn Digital label and both CDs are definitely worth getting. I caught Spaced Outís show at Nearfest 2002 and it sounds like they are even more smokiní now than they were back then.
Antoine Fafard is without question one of the best bass players around these days. Heís only getting crazier with age, too! Drummer Martin Maheux and guitarist Mark Tremblay have stepped up their game as well. This is some really fast and furious, head-scrambling fusion played by some true professionals. The majority of the stuff presented in the live set comes from the bandís last album Unstable Matter and thatís cool with me because itís the one that I hadnít heard yet. Itís hard to pick out highlights from this set because the whole thing is really great high-octane fun.
Despite what I said in the first paragraph of this review, I would definitely recommend picking up this disc. This is an excellent band and Iím thinking that they played with prerecorded keyboard tracks because they hadnít found a proper replacement yet. Iím sure many of the fans of this band have already picked up on this one. Those that havenít heard them yet are in for a wild ride on a fusion roller coaster.
(All Album Reviews by Windhawk)
Spaced Out is a Canadian band celebrating it's first decade as a band these days, and after starting out as a quartet they've been reduced to a trio the last few years. Live at the Crescendo Festival is their fifth release overall, and the first live album from the band.
Musically Spaced Out play a hybrid form of progressive rock, mixed with some metal influences and extensive jazz influences; resulting in compositions most would categorize as fusion.
Their approach to songwriting and playing is from the technical side. All members of this trio are top notch musicians, and compose structures where they all can showcase their capabilities as much as possible. This results in extensive passages where plenty of room is left for soloing and improvisational playing from each individual member; drums and bass are given just as much - if not more - space in the soundscapes as the guitar.
Besides showcasing individual capabilities, the musicians are also keen on showcasing their technical capabilities as a band. When one instrument is given the dominant space to show off, the other instruments then both support the soloing or improvisation going on as well as adding some stunning playing themselves - without taking the limelight from the dominating instrument. In addition, there are many passages where two instruments interact with each other, and often all three instruments as well.
To pull this off in studio is one thing, but doing this live as on this release is a stunning experience, especially for anyone knowledgeable in how to play one or more of the instruments handled by these excellent musicians.
What I find lacking here are good songs though. Musicianship in itself, although fascinating to some degree, ultimately becomes slightly boring if not showcased within the context of really good songs for me. And in this case, intricate playing and quirky structures are highlighted to a much higher degree than strong melodies, hooks and fascinating atmospheres.
Fans of intricate music in general, and fusion in particular, will love this stuff. Many musicians and fans of top class musicianship will find this release to be highly interesting as well. Others should take a good listen to see whether or not this is music to their taste though.
Personal highlights: "A Freak Az", "New Breed"
My rating: 60/100
(originally written for www.prog4you.com)