(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
I’ve been listening to Quarkspace for many years now and ever since hearing The Hidden Moon I’ve been a fan of their music. This is the band that put Columbus, Ohio on the space rock map, being the local group that played the Strange Days Festival for several years. They’ve been through several lineup changes over the years but are currently a trio consisting of Chet Santia on guitars, Jay Swanson on keyboards and Paul Williams on drums and synths. Quarkspace has had many studio releases over the years including the groundbreaking album Drop which the band has been giving away since 2001. I would contend that they were one of the first artists to realize the power of the Internet for free authorized music distribution.
Perhaps Quarkspace is most famous for it’s Spacefolds collections, a series of discs concentrating mainly on the band’s improvisational expertise. I have several of these and think they are all excellent. The last one I had heard was Spacefolds 7 which was released in 2001 and I’m glad to see that they are continuing the series.
Spacefolds 9 starts out with a really nice jam that they’ve entitled “Is It Really?” and right away I am drawn into the music by Jay’s piano playing. This is a strange thing about Quarkspace; most space rock bands have a defining quality like spacey synthesizers or soaring fuzz guitar and although these elements are definitely present, the main focus for me seems to be the piano in much of their music.
On “Red Melt” Brandon Ross (bass) and Lynnette Shelley (vox) from The Red Masque make the first of several appearances on this disc. These recordings were made several years ago and I’m surprised that they are just being released now. Of the five tracks that they appear on, my favorite is “Al Neri Sleeps with the Angels” which makes me think of some strange space horror movie soundtrack that might possibly appear on a Goblin album.
Also appearing on a few tracks is Carl Howard from a project called Nomusic. I’ll admit to not being familiar with Carl or Nomusic but I am quite impressed by the synth playing on those pieces. Another Quarkspace regular, Stan Lyon plays the bass on the tracks that Brandon is not on, including the very nice spacey number “Ghost Satellite” which contains some nice guitar work from Darren Gough. I’d have to say that this is one of my favorite tracks on the disc.
If you haven’t heard the wonderfully cosmic music of Quarkspace yet, this would be a great spot to hop on. It might not be their most definitive work but it does contain some excellent and varied music that would serve as a great sampler.