Darxtar - Tombola

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Record Heaven
Catalog Number: RHCD66
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:08:00

DarXtar are a Swedish trio of K.Soren Bengtsson on vocals, guitars and e-bow, Patric Danielsson on drums, percussion, vocals, flute, bagpipe and harmonica, and Marcus Pehrsson on vocals, and slide and electric bass guitar (with additional musicians for this release). Their sound isn't easily definable, though look at any other review and the term "spack rock" comes up. It is, in both senses - otherworldy with lots of floaty keyboards and such, and about space. Tombola is a concept album, though the concept is somewhat convoluted, and not really clear from the lyrics - fortunately, the band to include the story at their website, including which songs tell which part of the story. In a nutshell, the concept concerns a mission the protagonists undertake to make the world a better place.

In the first sense of the term, there are vague references to Pink Floyd, beginning with the opening track "Silently Driftin'," where you can hear shades of "Comfortably Numb," but that is making it too concrete. We hear some more Floyd-esque textures on "Ode To The Unknown" a track that adds to the spacey mix violins, and again (earlier, actually) in "Compromised Space," what this really sounds like is early King Crimson caught in a time-dilation effect, and instead of Lake or Wetton on vocals, it's a drugged and woosy Peter Gabriel, performing live, yet so far inside his own head that there could either be or not be an audience out there... and if there is, they may be in some other dimension anyway. If ever a track here could be termed spacey, this'd be it - floaty keyboard passages, and arrangement that seems to evolve out of some gelantious goo. It does seem to burst the bubble at the 5-something mark, evolving into a heavy, energetic rocker, treated with spacey, bloopy, slithering keyboard effects - like a shoot out between Buck Rodgers and some green alien beings (Buck of the 50s serial, by the way, not the more modern incarnation).

On the other hand, we get a wavery, surf-guitar sound to start off the heavy, psychedelic country rocker "Blue Frozen Flame" (a track that also makes me think of latter day Midnight Oil). It's a track that sounds at once modern and classic, as if a band from the late 60s was playing music written in the late 90s (the time when the pieces here were, in fact, composed and recorded). "No Peak To Pass" is a heavy rocker in a classic mode, shades of Deep Purple with some vocals and guitar work that seem borrowed from Jimi Hendrix. It's a big and heavy lumbering beast, with some screaming guitar work. One imagines that on stage things would get so intense the band would explode.

Just to mix things up, we get a twangy country rocker of "Healin' Skin," complete with harmonica. The blurb at GEPR mentioned Allman Brothers Band, and I'm quite tempted to agree. With an off-kilter twist of course. As if Greg Allman and company had been inhabited by aliens who were incorporating their own music into the classic Southern Rock format. And just when you realize that you're listening to The Alienman Brothers Band - cause things have just gotten too otherworldly -- they snap back to the Southern Rock mode.

"The Tunnel Inversion" begins with a heavy, punk-music like ferocity, mixing it up with equally heavy, dark, lumbering passages. "Baby Gaia" brings back a hint of the twangy guitar of earlier, but mainly we get happy go rock, 60s groovy rock. That is before it drifts off into spacey, atmospheric regions with a slight middle eastern motif. The album ends with "Tombola," a shimmery piece (keyboards, guitar) that reminds me a bit of Bread's "It Don't Matter To Me" instrumentally. There's loose, jazzy feel to it as well - a bit like The Flower Kings actually, even down to the Roine Stolt-like accented vocals.

The music on offer here is really good, but what seems to affect many artists are the vocals. Here they are hit and miss - maybe a little warbly, or a little flat, or a little off key at times... Nevertheless, the whole package is interesting, to say the least.

Silently Drifting (5:20) / Blue Frozen Flame (4:03) / High On Hopes (3:30) / Aura Fiducia (4:24) / No Peak To Pass (3:56) / Compromised Space (7:13) / Healing Skin (5:31) / Breath Messages (5:33) / In The Spiral (4:34) / Ode To The Undone (5:23) / The Tunnel Inversion (5:18) / Baby Gaia (6:06) / Tombola (8:17)

K.Soren Bengtsson - vocals, guitars and e-bow
Patric Danielsson - drums, percussion, vocals, flute, bagpipe and harmonica
Marcus Pehrsson - vocals, and slide and electric bass guitar
Soren Martensson - organs & synthesizers
Björn Jacobsson - electric guitar, electric and acoustic violins, mandolins and balalaika
Fredric Sundqvist - violin
Tomas Wettainan - sax?

DarXtar (1991)
Various - Isotopic Moments (1991)
Darker (1993)
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Daybreak (1994)
Starlog 1990-1994 (1995)
Sju (1996)
Various - Revenge Of The Orange (1996)
Various - Nethawks Vol I-IV (1996)
Various - Space Box (1996)
Various - A Tribute To The Music & Works Of Brian Eno (1997)
HawXtar (1997)
Various - The Fox Lies Down - A Tribute To Genesis (1998)
Tombola (2001) Various - Copenhagen Space Rock Festival Compilation 2002 (2003)
Various - Daze Of The Underground - A Tribute To Hawkwind (2003)
We Came Too Late (2005)

Genre: Psychedelic-Space Rock

Origin SE

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.darxtar.com/
Hits: 881
Language: english


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