Special Features: Limited edition on clear/black vinyl. Gatefold jacket.
- Saurian Dream
- The Mind That Feeds the Eye
- Navigating the Mandjet
- Illumination Cloud
- Hypnotized By Apophis
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Label: Headspin Records
It’s almost 100 percent certain that’s their origin, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to call the five tracks on Comacozer‘s debut LP, Astra Planeta, jams. There are moments that definitely give an air of spontaneity to the outing, whether that’s the initial unfolding textural nod of “Saurian Dream” or the guitar-led flourish that factors so significantly into closer “Hypnotized by Apophis,” but the course overall feels plotted, and with the blend of psychedelic and heavier impulses that the Sydney-based trio have on offer throughout the LP
, there’s some measure of comfort in that.
Of course, Comacozer aren’t exactly entering into their first album blind. Astra Planeta follows behind two EPs in 2014’s Sessions and 2015’s Deloun that wound up combined and pressed to vinyl as — wait for it – Deloun Sessions, but where that was very clearly drawing a line between two early outings, Astra Planeta draws a significant amount of its purpose from exacting a linear flow across its two sides, split with three cuts on side A and two longer ones on side B, opting it would seem for maximum immersion at all times, whether the source of that is Rich Burke‘s willfully-meandering guitar, Richard Elliott‘s patient basslines or the steady push in Andrew Panagopoulos‘ drumming that seems to hold these proceedings together, giving a song like second track “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” a sense of build late and adding direction to the record as a whole.
The opening that “Saurian Dream” and “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” give to Astra Planeta is key to understanding that direction. In listening, I’ve been trying to determine the source of what I’m hearing so distinctly as an earlier My Sleeping Karma influence. It seems to be in some of the minor-key Easternisms early in “Saurian Dream,” blended with Western heavy psych impulses, and no doubt part of the connection stems from the fact that both groups are instrumental, but I think it has even more to do with the smoothness in Comacozer‘s tones. Layers of watery effects from Burke‘s guitar and the depths in Elliott‘s bass as heard just past the midpoint of the opener as it comes more to the forefront of the mix join together to craft a hypnotic impression that, while still figuring out some elements of its approach — one hopes that growth is a lifelong process for the band only beginning here — is marked in its effect on the listener in a similar manner as the German masters of the form.
Where Comacozer distinguish themselves is in their immediate drive to push beyond this root inspiration, drawing from it the fluidity from which their debut very much benefits and then suiting that to the purposes of their already-noted instrumentalist songwriting, whether that’s the linearity of “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” or the more rhythmically-minded, open structure of “Navigating the Mandjet,” which follows and closes out side A with Panagopoulos expanding the percussive scope amid more adventurous arrangements of guitar, tapping sitar-esque feel and wah-soaked bass as handclaps assure a duly human feel beneath and alongside the earlier ceremonial thrust that gives way to funkier terrain as the three-piece make their way into the second half of the song, which is the shortest on Astra Planeta at 6:21.
It’s fitting for the overarching progression of Astra Planeta that the two lengthiest pieces should follow. One might have a difficult time saying “Illumination Cloud” (8:18) and “Hypnotized by Apophis” (11:38) go further out than any of the first three tracks, since the basic cosmos-bound flow remains largely consistent, but with more time at their disposal, Comacozer do get a chance to show more of the aforementioned spontaneity. Burke‘s solo late in “Illumination Cloud,” which if it isn’t improvised is a close enough approximation over the steady groove offered by the bass and drums — Elliott‘s bass takes over circa 7:30 after that solo drops out and offers a moment to genuinely appreciate his tone shortly before the song ends — as well as in the thicker, early Natas-style fuzz of “Hypnotized by Apophis,” which settles into a march in its second half only after a satisfyingly exploratory midsection in which the low end again shines as the guitar noodles-out in trippy fashion.
Granted, it might ultimately be a familiar blend of styles — heavy, psych, some underpinnings of stoner and doom — but as with any encouraging debut, Astra Planeta presents a telling glimpse of where Comacozer are coming from sound-wise and gives listeners a chance to speculate on where and how they might develop going forward. As to that, the most engaging facets of Astra Planeta prove to be its ultimate immersion, its willingness to subtly engage with expanded layering and arrangements, its tonal warmth and the chemistry beginning to take shape between Burke, Elliott and Panagopoulos. So long as Comacozer can maintain those going forward, the rest should take care of itself naturally, and particularly as naturalism seems to be such a focus for them on Astra Planeta, there should be little to worry about in that regard. - The Obelisk (TheObelisk.net)