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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
“Speaks Combat Astronomy’s distinct, clear and powerful voice in a language that gains power and inertia with every release.” – WAYSIDE MUSIC
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.
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
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