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Flak Planet by Combat Astronomy

With inferences to metal-drenched avant-garde jazz, sounds of doom, and crazed electronica based free-jazz; Combat Astronomy's fourth album extends its bizarre, apocalyptic spin on cross-genre stylizations.  With notable British experimentalists and avant-garde perpetrators shaping the crazed vistas, leader, conceptualizer, and five-string electric bassist James Huggett lays down some of the heaviest bass lines known to mankind with guerrilla tactics and calamitous sound-sculpting maneuvers.  Huggett overdubs bass lines within various parts, and needless to say, envelops an ominous undercurrent throughout the broad plane of lower and upper-register tonal contrasts.

Combat Astronomy takes your listening space under siege.  They open with a fat e-bass note on "The Stone Tape," followed by trombonist Derek Saw's intense, soul-searching motif atop mega electronic drumming parts and crashing cymbal hits.  Multi-instrumentalist Martin Archer employs a bass recorder amid his saxes and bass clarinet work, in alliance with reedman Mick Beck's bassoon segments, where the bass element is reinforced to the hilt.  Hence, the avant metal/jazz aura remains a constant as jazz-based improvisation attains a bizarre equilibrium with the loud and oscillating death-metal type grooves. 

"Infinity Decay" starts out with an eerie organ vamp that could intimate an entry-point into a mysterious subterranean dwelling.  It's an ethereal interlude of sorts, culminated with subliminal treatments and a sense of unsettling anticipation.  The musicians proceed to interweave an electro-organic component into the final moments; however, they return with a neural impetus on the doomsday laden and 4-part "Inverted Universe."  Here, visions of an angry titan's footsteps come to mind via slightly distorted bass, subsequently shaded by simmering woodwinds choruses and a booming rock pulse. 

Daring and somewhat innovative, Combat Astronomy's perilous journey into the unknown tenders a thrills-per-minute experience.   With gut-wrenching patterns and a larger than life sound, the album should be branded with a clause, stating that the audience should play at their own risk.  The artists' purveyance of imagery set on a colossal soundscape could also serve as a proving ground for a high-end stereo system.  Indeed, a top selection for 2011.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Combat Astronomy
  • CD Title: Flak Planet
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Record Label: Zond Records
  • Musicians: Martin Archer (Organ, Electronics, Zither, Tambourine, Sopranino, Alto and Baritone Saxophone , Bb and Bass Clarinets, Bb and bass clarinets and bass recorder), Mick Beck (Tenor Saxophone, Bassoon), James Huggett (Fretless Five String Bass, Concept and Production), Mike Ward (Tenor Saxophone, Bass and Concert Flutes, Reindeer Horn, Drone Flute), Derek Saw (Trombone, Trumpet)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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