Calling all intergalatic cruisers: Its…….BLACK METAL IN SPACE! Who could have seen it coming? Hawkwind meets Sleep for occult tea time with the devil. A brilliant idea. Combine this with press photos that say: “Monster Magnet meets postcards from the Milky Way”. I am all over this record.
Furze likes to keep it mysterious, but if you dig a little you can guess that he hails from my part of the country (sort of in the middle, geographically). In this nation of loners, it is not surprising fact that several musicians want to keep their black metal persona on a one-man basis. It could always go other way. If you are in the first category, with say Taake, you have the musical skills to play, produce and mastermind everything to a certain standard. Good black metal doesn’t have to sound like you recorded it with a practice amp in a bunker. Which brings me to the second category: The one-man bunker band. You will always get a few black metal elitists who think this is the “true” way to do it. But be honest, if you are a lover of music, can you really stand to listen to an hour of sloppy metal? Few of you can. I tend to lean towards the peeps who can actually play.
Lucky for us Furze is in category one. A creative perfectionist who takes his time between releases. There have been five records released between 1996 and now, not counting demos and EPs. The early material had more of a primal black metal vibe, in the last few years Furze has ventured further and further into deep space. It sounds like it is inspired by both drone and classic progressive space rock like Hawkwind.
You can easily choose to see Psych Minus Space Control as both an evolution and a document of history. As there are so few songs we can afford to quickly break them all down. The opening track is called “Occult Soul, With Mind”, a title that sounds frightfully like something a Japanese metal band would say between songs. Here we are served a nice nine minute dose of classic 70’s doom, with a little theremin. Halfway it is hushed down to the bare minimum. The careful guitar picking is amplified by sudden bursts of heavy distortion. The song flows like a classic piece, very well put together, interesting to follow and listen to.
The next track, the title song, has the ominous job of setting the mood, it is the front runner. It is a slow, spaced out clean repetition of simple guitar notes building for 2 minutes then sliding into a ghostly solo. I distinctly remember a Super Mario ghost house sounding exactly like this. Bonus. How one simple guitar can be this breathtaking is hard to fathom. It just screams solitude. After 5 minutes the band strikes up and we get a great, sludgy build up. This is probably the only song in the world over 14 minutes that I actually want to listen to twice.
“Reaper Subconcious Guide” and “Triad of Lucifer” are the accessible cousins of the two first songs. Occult horror rockers that would fit the soundtrack of King Diamond‘s life. The homage to Black Sabbath is impossible to ignore, the guitar riffs have Iommi written all over them. Furze is skilled enough to pay tribute and still make memorable melodies without stealing. Show me a Sabbath clone that can do the same, I have yet to hear one.
The album is, according to the press release, 93% instrumental. Interesting, I wonder how they calculated that. Not a bad idea, as black metal vocals tend to wear down your patience after a few tracks. The only track that has vocals is the last track, the groovy punk number “When Always Ready”, featuring both the black metal grunt and the clean Ozzy-drawl of mid-era Sabbath. At first the song seems very out of place (and time) with the rest of the album, but when you read liner notes you see that the album has been recorded in different studios and at different times over the last 10 years. People change, Furze is probably no different. When “Always Ready” sounds a little more adolescent, more like the fuck-off attitude of the punks. Half way through it switches gears into the 70’s groove and regains some adult stature. It is not a bad track, but it sounds more like a demo/B-side than a worthy finish to such a mighty collection of songs. But hey, breaking up the mood is not always a bad idea.
The entire album is recorded in pure analogue fashion. “Nerdy”, you might exclaim. But even the untrained ear can hear that this style of recording gives the music a special feel. The same feeling you get when you spin Black Sabbath or old Pentagram records. A guitar sounds more like….well, a guitar. Analogue also makes synths and mellotron sound more eerie, which is the whole point of the record.
While you are picking up Ghost’s Opus Eponoymous, spend some more time in the dusty corner of the record store to dig out Furze. The cover art should be enough to drag you in. True connoisseurs will sigh with relief and happiness, virgin listeners will have their minds blown. Psych Minus Space Control is a rare gem, a true underground document with broad appeal.