It is hard to say whether Beyond Refugeeum, the new EP from space rockers Black Space Riders, is an epilogue, continuation, or parallel entity to the band’s acclaimed fourth album, Refugeeum of 2015. In varying ways it is all of those identities whilst providing a mouth-watering and spirit rousing proposal from the ever captivating imagination of the German outfit offering four new tracks to tempt with a couple of remixes.
The quartet of original recordings making their first appearance upon Beyond Refugeeum, are songs which the band deliberately kept back from Refugeeum to release separately; tracks which according to vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist JE, are “unlike what you might expect from this band. But you can still tell that it comes logically and quite unmistakably from the Black Space Riders. The songs are exalted, sometimes overwrought, vivid, and yet accessible. Much has happened in Europe and in the world since these songs were written at the end of 2014 and recorded in early 2015, but they seem to be even more contemporary and necessary than ever.”
As soon as first track Willkommen engages and embraces ears, it is easy to understand his suggestion. The EP is straight away recognisably Black Space Riders invention but moving in different circles of ideas and fresh directions, and increasingly so across the release. The opener is an instrumental which starts with a gentle intent and touch, guitars coming in one by one with bass and percussion close behind. Each element has a melodic and rhythmic restraint but a provocative essence which brews and grows across the six minute encounter. Spatial yet increasingly aggressive and intimate, the track is like a psychedelic nebula, drawing in denser sounds and energy until creating its own dramatic world, or in this case an intensity fuelled sonic climax.
The following Freedom At First Sight sees the band venture into a more nostalgic field of inspiration, post and gothic punk with new wave hues enthrallingly flavouring its magnetic presence. The vocals have a dour tone and melodies a colder air to match the ambience of the otherwise rousing roar of the song. In many ways like a mix of Sisters Of Mercy, Killing Joke, and Joy Division, it is glorious with a closing crescendo of voice and sound to get lustful for. Across their releases, Black Space Riders have created some memorable and irresistible proposals but this track might just eclipse them all.
Droneland grumbles into view next, its sonic breath a grouchy nagging which is soon accompanied and overwhelmed by the magnetic light of synths, though an underlying shadow still lingers as the track blossoms a mesmeric flight over shamanic rhythms. The attitude loaded lure of bass adds another irresistible hue, as too the grainy vocals which soon breed great spirit-raising harmonies. Once hitting its full height, weight, and stride, the track is a forcibly rousing incitement again revealing new shades of colour and imagination to the creative palette of the band.
Just as fascinating and thrilling is Starglue Sniffer, a pulsating slice of funk rock with spatters of excitable melodic and sonic temptation across a flirtatious bass lure and exotic rhythms. The falsetto hue of the vocals catch ears by surprise whilst only pleasing though it is the thumping dynamics and almost rebellious textures of the song, as well as sultry grooves, which steal the passions most. Becoming more irritable and volatile with every passing breath, the track snarls and flirts with sublime effect, to join its predecessors in leaving ears and appetite greedy for more.
Completed by VRTX RMX, an atmospherically invasive yet alluringly droning remix of their last album’s opener Vortex Sun, and finally Gravitation, the electro club remix of the band’s Give Gravitation to the People, a song on D:REI the band’s debut album, Beyond Refugeeum is an unmissable treat for fans and newcomers. The final two tracks make great listening but it is the new songs which grab all the eager plaudits whilst revealing an array of new pastures we can only hope the band explore further. We loved the previous Black Space Riders releases, but Beyond Refugeeum might just be our favourite moment yet.
The Beyond Refugeeum EP is out now via Black Space Records on 12” vinyl, CD, and digitally@ https://blackspaceriders.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 16/05/2016
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