There aren’t many bands who can work Clangersesque vocal and Todd Rundgren’s motorbike guitar from Bat Out Of Hell into a 10-minute space rock intro and get away with it, but you can rest assured that The Cosmic Dead number among them!
And after that strange, limbering warm-up we’re suddenly lifting off on a rocket-powered magic carpet ride through space that quickly gathers speed, with Julian’s drums and Omar’s base driving us relentlessly on. The bass is infused with a gorgeous crackling fuzz that evokes visions of sparks dancing across the speaker cones and is easily matched by the energy from the drums.
James singing audible lyrics is something of a revelation and it adds another dimension to their sound, although by the end of part one we are back to a more familiar howling, echoey vocal sound as the track abruptly fades… and then explodes back into life as part two kicks of with Lewis’ keyboards and James’ guitar far more in evidence as they wig out on some frantic spacey exploration. Half way in to part 2 we settle into a steadier groove, cruising along while the crazy stuff continues unabated but a little less to the fore, before fading back to a brief Clangers reprise and then erupting into a howling, pounding finish.
Although their basic modus operandi doesn’t really change I never get bored by The Cosmic Dead, but that’s because it is based on collaborative exploration that produces seemingly unique results every time. I was surprised to learn from Julian (Facebook messaging is a wonderful thing…) that this was a relatively old song, since it sounded more like an exciting progression than an archive track to me.
For this album the sleeve is cryptic and trippy but less expansive than previous efforts (no gatefold this time around, sadly), but that is made up for by the impressive, chunky grey-marbled vinyl which is a nice pressing and sounds really great. It’s not often I’ll comment on the label, but there is something pleasing about that too, for what it’s worth.
It’s worth mentioning that there are several opportunities coming up to see The Cosmic Dead live in Europe, which in my opinion reveal the band in their natural environment and should be attended if at all possible.