Every so often, I get the urge to put something entirely different on the CD player. One of those other genres that I appreciate is psychedelic. Given its influence on the prog world, that’s probably not much of a surprise. I recently received by “cosmic post” a copy of the first CD by a San Francisco area band called Alientar. So I put it on… Whoa!… is the room supposed to look like that? These guys are truly trippy.
Technically, from Santa Cruz, Alientar came together in 1999 and since that time, this five-piece has been gigging in and around the Bay Area at all the right spots including the Fillmore. In addition, like so many bands from that area the opportunity to play live a lot has allowed them the opportunity to build up quite a lengthy set list of original tunes, eight of which are showcased here. Alientar consists of Forest Coe (lead guitar & vocals), Jason Deppong (drums), Derk Hagedorn (bass & vocals), Jeremy Lathrop (rhythm guitar & vocals) and Joseph Lemmer (keyboards).
As for the music… if you can imagine a wide range of influences from spacey psychedelia to more jam-band funk you’ll know what to expect here. These guys are really into creating soundscapes that rock. The track “Music Box” is not only very prog influenced but could also be really comfortable on one of the first Pink Floyd albums. While the very next track, a slow blues influenced piece displays more of jamming influence. The next track “Good Luck” sounds like a track off the first Grateful Dead album. And so it goes with Alientar. Most of the tracks are in the eight to nine minute length and allow the band to stretch out musically in many solo spots, particularly guitar while the keyboards/organ provide not only added atmosphere but rhythm as well. Each of the compositions, because of their length allows for many changes in time and tempo but all the while set within that driving psychedelic framework. It makes for a very visceral, almost live sound.
Alientar is the type of band that occupies a solid spot in the psychedelic while playing with prog embellishments. And it’s just the type of CD you reach for when you’re craving something a little different. I can see their music appealing to quite a wide range of listeners but certainly, fans of bands like Hawkwind, Qoph or any of the others mentioned above will find a lot to appreciate and enjoy here.
Review by Jerry Lucky
April 06, 2005