Sombre Castles Of Desire
(2011 - Angry Robot Records - Ireland)
This is Nog Cavanagh’s 2nd release and it’s filled with the same style of deep space music as his debut ('Everything Leads To Here'). Even though he is an independent musician producing his own solos over the last 7 years, he previously played with Liquid Hedgehog, Satori, Secret Garden, and Caustic Soup. He plays a large number of instruments.
I immediately hear some references such as Cyrille Verdeaux (Clearlight Symphony solos, and many projects). His first CD really had all those markers. Also Tim Blake, Nik Turner and Steve Hillage would be great comparisons. Most songs have a definite space core to them but they vary in tempos and some are heavier, some are mellow. All tunes get a groove and let people dance to them. People would love this at a rave (especially Song 5 - Pulsar) so it certainly would have it’s more modern place there.
The recording quality stands out better on this sophomore album. All things begin with a relaxing groove of celestial jam. While it reminds me of Hawkwind as for it’s repetitive mode and space ritual genre, it still has a springy Hillage sound to it overall ('Fish Rising', and 'Green' era). There is playfulness, and that genuine 60's psychedelic flavor to it, which I found extra nice. The second song (“King Arachno”) has a more aggressive and faster tempo off the mark, with fuzzed out guitar, swirling lead, synthesizers, and pumping bass. Again, very much in the Hawkwind tradition in structure of jam. I think this would be a good party song if you wanted to do the 60's trip theme. If you like Pink Floyd I think it’s safe to say you’ll like this CD also. I swear I heard a Casio synthesizer and a Theremin on song 7 (Looks Like Rain). Nog uses old and new instruments to produce the varied trippy sounds of his music. The range from Tangerine Dream to Future Sound of London, is the result. And of course the mind set and smarts to write this type of music in the first place.
If you’re looking for time changes and the complex rhythms of another space rock genre such as Gong ('You' and beyond) or Ozric Tentacles, this is not it. It’s a very groove oriented all instrumental music and meant for easily sitting back with headphones and revisiting (or visiting, if you are under the age of 60) the 60's psychedelic music scene in living color! Nog wrote and dedicates 'Ghost On The Wind' (Song 9) to his deceased mother. This song is very beautiful and has a free feeling to it, combining both earth (nature sounds) and space quality. His last song ('El34') also has a floating beginning but then jumps into a fast intense space jam. It’s the only track where I saw this big change of tempo and entire atmosphere change like that. This may be more of what we might see in the next release. My only complaint are the cheap electronic drum machine parts. A real drummer/percussionist sure would bring out Mr. Cavanagh’s music more brilliantly.
No doubt this will go over well for sci-fi rock fans, and folks who love any of the hypnotic bands I mentioned in the review. I am glad there are musicians still around like Nog, that can do what they want and make these type recordings from another galaxy.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on March 12th, 2011