I stumbled into Combat Astronomy last year on their Bandcam page. It worth to check out their page, there you can get all their previous releases, some of them are still for free (and donation based) as their latest EP “Barricades” released in July 2011.
Mastermind, composer – and project manager 😀 – James Huggett explore the interference area of post-rock, doom and industrial with the outbursts of free jazz and avant-garde music. Space rock elements and dirty stoner rock riffs are melting down in the contorted noises and explosive outbreaks of horns. Freaky and heavy, cutting and exciting, in a fair world Combat Astronomy should be far better known as they are. But this isn’t a fair world, Britney Spears and Take That are famous and popular and I can’t blame them, not even the industry, the subordinated media, but I blame ourselves, the undefined, comfortable, predictable, lazy, fat and careless consumer. Nobody would be able to sell us shit if we wouldn’t bought it.
Last year “Earth Divided By Zero” was a tumultuous, contorted, hell of a journey and “Flak Planet” sounds a few steps further intensive. Combat Astronomy is far not some easy-listening or radio-friendly product, but Mr. Huggett and his brilliant contributors bring to the surface a heavy, but burning, gloomy, but bright, striking universe filled with improvisations and avant-garde/experimental elements.
Constructed from the ground of rock/metal structures, Huggett (fretless five String bass, concept and prodcution) and Martin Archer (organ, electronics, zither, tambourine, sopranino, alto and baritone saxophone, Bb and bass clarinets, bass recorder), Mick Beck (tenor saxophone and bassoon), Mike Ward (tenor saxophone, bass and concert flutes, Reindeer horn and drone flute) and Derek Saw (trombone and trumpet) delivered a pulsing, shifting, but fascinating, exciting soundscape of a hidden, not quite parallel, but contorted universe. Filling up the space between experimental metal and avant-garde jazz, space rock and post rock, industrial rawness and jazz boldness, Combat Astronomy find their own tasteful style and sound, their unique blending of elements and special chemistry. If any label is mandatory, fusion I guess would cover the best this experiment.
While “Flak Planet” seems to slip more in the wilderness experimental side of the music and have a stronger jazzy perfume – still with a few noisy and cutting edges, “Barricades” might be their most industrial release, Huggett delivering powerful riffings with his baritone guitar while Martin Archer and Mike Ward came along with some mad horn attacks (the closing “Water Bearer” it’s quite a criminal act!). Also on “Barricades” featuring Kelli Denoyer with some beautiful vocal scores.
I was in love with “Dematerialised Passenger”, their album from 2005, now “Flak Planet” comes pretty close or even further, but in any case, Combat Astronomy worth full attention and appreciation, their walk and build their own path sound by sound, release by release. Choosing the hard way, not the… Broadway.
Still, ignorance have no excuse.