MAAT LANDER - Seasons of Space (Book #1)
Just a short time after reviewing Russian psychedelic rock bandís latest album Shum-Shir, I got the pleasure to listen to the new record by Maat Lander, a band founded by that bandís rhythm section (the brothers Arkady and Ivan Fedotov on bass and drums) and guitarist Ilya Lipkin who otherwise plays with heavy psyche rock band The Re-Stoned. Maat Landerís sound is more closely related to the former bandís sound, and that makes for an interesting sonic journey into vast ambient psychedelic landscapes.
Founded in late 2014, the Russians released their debut album The Birth Of Maatís Galaxy the following year. Again one year later, they followed with a live album recorded prior to the debut. There has also been earlier this year a split-album with the famous ōresund Space Collective where both bands offered each a twenty-minute track. Now they are back with Seasons Of Space (Book #1), an album that shows that this is more than just a one-off projects between friends.
You have the choice to acquire Seasons Of Space (Book #1) either as a fifty-five minute long vinyl album, or at eighty minutes with three bonus tracks even longer versions on CD or digitally. The opener Planet Of The Intelligent Gas-Shaped Lifeforms is an eight minute epic that shows off the bandís qualities. Apart from the typical rock instruments (guitar, bass and drums), the musicians also add lots of synthesizers and occasional bouts of flute, underlining their psychedelic credentials. The following Crimson Turtles is even half a minute longer, with a guitar sound closely related to King Crimsonís Robert Fripp. The meditative synth sounds combined with the dreamy guitar take this into a direction that reminds me of Fripp and David Sylvianís great collaborative album The First Day from 1993. Galaxy Passage #1 is a one-minute instrumental that sounds like Genesisí Steve Hackett accompanied by bubbly space synths. The vinyl albumís A-side ends with the nearly thirteen-minute-long Fields Of Serenity, a veritable magnum opus that marries the bandís ambient psychedelic moods with their more space rocking side. Especially the songís second half is a fun rocker that you wouldnít have expected after the preceding tracks. This is probably where The Re-Stonedís more furious side comes out.
Side B starts with the ten-minute mammoth track The World Of The Ocean With No Dry Land where the band shows once again that generous lengths give them the best opportunity to display their wide array of sounds. Up next is Galaxy Passage #2, which feels just like its first part, although this time itís nearly two minutes long. The bouncy Dance Of Photonic Roaches is a more direct and instantly approachable song, and then the vinyl version concludes with The Constellation Of The Mirror Fish, an all in all mellower track that is a fitting example of how ambient and psychedelic sounds can work together.
The first bonus track is Maatís First Mistake that comes with a guest musician on trumpet, adding once more to the vast sonic texture of Maat Lander. While this is a very sedate track, the trumpet adds a melancholic yearning that prevents this piece from slipping into boredom. Galaxy Passage #3 is the albumís shortest piece at eighteen seconds, before the sixteen-minute live version of The Birth of Maatís Galaxy ends it all for good on a really sprawling note. The original version on the bandís debut album was already nearly ten minutes long, but this live extravaganza adds nearly seven more minutes, showing that these guys must really rule live on stage.
It is hard to compare Maat Lander to other bands. Ozric Tentacles, Quantum Fantay and ōresund Space Collective are some bands that act in a similar way, and also Tangerine Dreamís Seventies albums work as a reference, but in the end, Maat Lander combine this into their very own concoction. At times they may overdo it with the addition of bubbling synths or stretch some parts for a little too long, but in the end is always comes out healthy and wholesome. Seasons of Space (Book #1) is a welcome addition to the canon of ambient psychedelic rock music, and I am already looking forward for these three Russians to follow up with Book #2. And looking at their release history, I doubt that we will have to wait for a long time.