Style: Stoner Rock
Release Date: 25 May 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | YouTube
What's most surprising about Space Raptor's new album, Galactic Shenanigans, is that it's rather down to earth. There's no space rock here and no cosmic prog, just the odd swirly synth behind the band. It's an instrumental stoner rock album that starts out with a notable light touch. I wondered for a moment why the catchiest song, Monaco Franz, a friendly five minute trip, is the closer rather than the opener. Clearly it's about the energy, which builds with the album and culminates at the finalé.
The opener is interesting if not as catchy, even with a name like Psychedelic Warfare. As if to make a statement, it's the longest song on the album at over ten minutes and it unfolds in episodic fashion, almost like it's four or five tracks in a row without any gaps. It starts out playful but finds a riff a couple of minutes in and has fun with it. A couple more and it gets ethnic with a middle eastern sound led by bass and cymbals. Then it gets quiet, with the guitar taking back over but calmly as if it's cooler not to care. Eventually it finds an ominous tone, just for a moment before the guitar decides to soar. It's a happy guitar and a varied track. It feels like both a warm up and a workout for the band but it's good stuff.
Miphisto is a little heavier, but it's still playful and happy in spirit, a little quieter and more introspective. Then again, Space Raptor appear laid back even when they're playing fast, like on Balls to the Wall. This one has an edge from the beginning, rather like a punk song. It slows down after a couple of minutes but finds a nice riff halfway through and a speedy one too because it gallops along like, well, a herd of space raptors, as wild as the album gets.
Die Nelke Zwischen den Distein is another laid back song, content for the drums to set the beat while the guitars play with a calm riff that waits for our brains to echo it. It escalates, of course, but this band is too mellow to get really intense. Even louder, faster and more emphatic, they're pretty laid back. Have I said that enough yet?
Teleport starts out like Black Sabbath, so much so that I was humming along to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath until the riff changed. It turns back into stoner rock, of course, but only after some big riffs. I love the slowdown late in the song. The guitar tone there is reminiscent of doom/death, like Paradise Lost, but done in a stoner rock framework.
It's Kauderwelsch im Commonwealth that really sold me on this album. It's the other long song, running over nine and a half minutes and it suckers us in slowly, almost creeping in on tiptoes until announcing itself a couple of minutes in with perky drums. It gradually gets heavier, the bass shimmying along nicely and interplaying intricately with the guitars. It's playful, but the time it ends, the band have got as heavy as they're going to get on this album.
And, with Monaco Franz to wrap things up with its prominent wailing guitar, Space Raptor impressed me without ever seeming to try. This is the happier end of instrumental stoner rock, with just a few moments of darkness for us to acknowledge that not everything is rainbows and unicorns and, well, space raptors. Mood is important in instrumental psych and this is refreshing, not only because it's different but because it's auditory lemonade on a hot day.