Peacedogman - Lord Space Devil (en)

COSMIC TRIP MACHINE - "Lord Space Devil", 2008 (Self-released)
Heavy psych for the ADHD impaired.

One would think a review for a band with a name like COSMIC TRIP MACHINE would practically write itself. And yes, to a certain point the expected stereotypes for such a name do prove pretty accurate. At its heart, this Belgian duo proudly carries the banner for all hippie-dippy acoustic jamsters everywhere. Stylistically, though, their sound is crammed with all sorts of folk, blues, Indian and British rock influence. Essentially, one could imagine Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, Ravi Shankar and Syd Barrett sitting around a campfire with a bag of…um… leafy green vegetables and be more or less hip to what's going on here.

Well, let's start with the good news: This album has superb guitar work that's both classy and technically impressive. The album starts off as one would expect, as the title cut sports acoustic strumming, sitar plinking, mumbled vocals, tape recorder manipulation and, of course, bongos (it's also worth mentioning that minimalist bongos are the only percussion present on this album, so the term "rock 'n roll" does not apply here). After that, though, this album goes off in a hundred different directions. "Go Down Streets" sounds like it was lifted off "Piper at the Gates of Dawn," "Mantra #27" weaves sitar drone through heavy rock guitar, and the ultra-catchy "Plastic Hippie" could have easily been a Top 40 hit back in the late 60s. However, it's the straight-up classical guitar moments such as "Mariachi/The Twilight" and "Chiaroscuro" that are among the most memorable. This reviewer for one is a sucker for classical guitar. Also worth mentioning are the manically morose tracks such as "Time" and the appropriately titled "So Sad" which are enough to give even the devil's heartstrings a tug.

This of course leads us into the bad news: As mentioned earlier, this is a band with no shortage of influences. The problem, of course, arises when these influences clash with each other, and this happens a LOT. Listeners will constantly need to readjust to a barrage of frequently shifting styles. It also doesn't help that there are no less than 18 tracks on this album (!) and that the average song length is only around two and a half minutes, the aforementioned title track being the only one with any considerable length to it. And if that wasn't bad enough, there are moments like the unwarranted "Eruption" -like rock guitar solo "Conversation" that just make no sense whatsoever (and while I'm nitpicking, that guitar tone is WAY too modern for this kind of album). One could argue that this is the psych/prog album for folks with ADHD… which kinda defeats the purpose of a fully immersive experience, doesn't it?

Sigh…well, while this album is bankrupt of any sense of flow, it most certainly does not lack talent. Now for one last bit of good news: In the spirit of our man John Brenner of AGAINST NATURE, this album is available for free download from the band's website. Keep in mind too that this album was reviewed in its entirety and in the order that the tracks were intended to be heard, so a more selective and more carefully ordered playlist will yield better results. Bottom line: This MACHINE has a few glitches, but it can still get the job done.

- Cardona

Cardona, COSMIC TRIP MACHINE - "Lord Space Devil", 2008 (Self-released), Peacedogman