Aqua Nebula Oscillator
I’ve always been a glutton for the wild and fantastical whims of the occult. There’s something so enticing about the mythology behind it; epic and powerful demigods and the minions that heel to them with rituals that would cause the bourgeois to scoff and hurriedly scurry away with dread of the unknown forces on the brink. Even more fascinating is the art that the occult inspires in all forms. Especially the music that’s been inspired in years past.
Blues and Jazz have a heavy hand in what has become a crazed movement in today’s culture. What with Dr. John and his voodoo ripened Gris Gris to Bo Diddley’s Hoodoo inspired “Who Do You Love?” The seventies saw numerous Hard Rock acts dabbling in witchcraft inspired lyrics and Satanism; Black Widow, Jacula, Amon Dull II, and Black Sabbath all challenged us to embrace the sinister realm. They introduced a darker shade to music as well as an enormous new weight in sound. Nothing was ever the same after. The occult brought wicked new life to our glorious Rock & Roll. The next stage in evolution has given us a strange breed of music indeed.
On a related side note, the entire concept of space and its infinite expanse is something that ignites fervor in even the most dour imaginations, so it only makes sense that occultists would be naturally attracted to its essence. It brings up a touchy subject for me though. I’ve seen the term Space Rock thrown around very frivolously toward bands that are just plain careless in their music; the design, execution, and production is haphazardly mashed together like a collage of paintballs; it’s all just plain unattractive and emotionally vacant. It begs these questions to be asked: What is Space Rock? What is its purpose? What are we supposed to feel when listening to it? Many call Hawkwind the undisputed champion and pioneer of Space Rock and, while they did create a specific sub-genre, I do believe the definition of Space Rock has been refined in a climate Hawkwind wasn’t designed to survive in. This is the real Space Rock. This is Occult Space Rock.
It’s like something taken out of space horror, nightmarish science fiction fantasy, or a murky haunted forest. Aqua Nebula Oscillator’s self-titled debut album is a nod to music remaining an art and cherished part of our imagination as much as it ever has been. The atmosphere created with the cortege of instruments and their strange other worldly mutterings is positively transcendental, creating an illusion of weightlessness in our minds reminiscent of Space as it actually exists. The images created in our minds by the extensive Shankar and Coltrane lineage improvisations and explosive runaway dronings are colorful and bursting with a fiery heat, while reminding us of Dr. John’s haunted jams. The lyrics are thick with wiccan mysticism and devil’s brew casting spells upon our ears. The surrealism is an experience unmatched. The many voices of the occult-fascinated band leader David Sphaèr’os are interdimensional. You won’t think of Cult Space Rock in the same way ever again after experiencing this collection of eleven voyages into otherworldly territory. These are songs that exist in a realm beyond anything we can see or touch. Sphaèr’os offers some insight on their writing process:
“We do free form songwriting! I come with my song, give some direction, but we are jamming a lot inside the song, to keep it alive and keep from getting bored as hell!”
The band was blowing minds in Paris, France for a solid decade; simply enjoying the psychedelic trip of the music with no pressure to please the masses (which should be the foremost goal of any said band) before 2008, when they managed to pull themselves together enough to record properly and with that came their eponymous debut, as well as their demise. In an unexpected and curious turn of events, the band split ways after the debut due to irreconcilable differences in the band’s direction. It’s not much of a surprise for a band that managed to hold it together for 12 years and only produce one officially tangible record. Most bands call it quits within a year or two, but this isn’t any casual run of the mill band. Sphaèr’os operates a very tightly knit musical ship. He forms an irresistible bond with his musicians. In the wake of his shattered band, he went on to reassign the same band with new players, however the dynamic of their sound was completely altered. With his new outfit, Sphaèr’os commenced immediately upon the album, Under The Moon of Aqua Nebula Oscillator, which was obviously a very transitional recording. Here, starry Psychedelic nights wed with nightmarish guitar fuzz and curiously beautiful compositions such as “Overmoon,” which seems to flirt with images of long moonlit walks.
In addition, in 2010 they released a seven track collection of exceptionally surrealistic tracks recorded during the band’s free roaming decade, titled Caves Recordings 1998 – 2008. These seven tracks will trip you over your own feet and send you spiraling down the rabbit hole of Sphaèr’os’ beautifully demoniacal vision. They are slightly muddy in production quality, but are absolutely brilliant examples of their creative Psychedelic whim and patience; they will surely stand as any psychedelic nut’s wet dream.
With their stateside album Third, they took an unexpected turn towards brash and rowdy, balls to the wall Cult-driven Space Rock. It’s a departure from their previous work based on the sheer velocity and ferocity of sound, but the essence of Doom is no less prevalent in the eerie wall-of-sound sonic juices flowing through the record. The essence that’s changed is the pacing of the music, it’s no longer elongated with uneasy leisure. They’ve adopted a new sense of speed and the guitar is far more prominent as a leading instrument, rather than sitar, keyboards, and the entourage of Sphaèr’os’ interdimensional voices. Sphaèr’os is a shaman and creative mastermind, there is no saying what masterworks lie dormant within his mind. His uniquely eccentric take on Rock and Roll comes through more than ever here.
None of this should beg you to question the band’s consistency because, and I can’t emphasize it enough, there is no band out there like Aqua Nebula Oscillator. Sure their releases have been variously unpredictable, but that doesn’t diffuse their explosive ingredients. This is why, with each and every release of theirs I will be sitting anxiously on pins and needles waiting to hear it for the first glorious time! And so I found myself anxiously awaiting their release of Spiritus Mundi because I felt in my gut it was to be their swan song for the world. Released stateside on November 5th, more psychedelic wiccan junkies would know of the band that is Aqua Nebula Oscillator than ever before!
The machine has come full circle! They have indeed outdone themselves with their fourth release, Spiritus Mundi. Here, everything they’ve accomplished thus far collides full on into their new selves and it creates a beautifully grotesque creature living in both past and present, shape shifting between their old and new aesthetics with each track. This is an awakening; a revelation! “Up to The Sky” epitomizes the central theme of the album; realizing our shortcomings and overcoming them with the power of the mind:
Why some people die of being alone?
Why must people die of being blind?
Why some people die of getting high?
Open up the eyes of your mind!
The next track moves forward with the same theme “Turn on Your Mind” with its anthemic chorus “Everything’s gonna be alright!” Sphaèr’os takes on the shade of some therianthropic beast in “Jungle Man,” the proclaimed single. It’s so positively wicked in its Voodoo inspired southern-fried attributes, it’s almost as if Dr. John was right there in the recording process. It’s a tune pressing us to question everything, and live our lives with mind over matter. The 13th Floor Elevators cover of “Rollercoaster” is a sinister treat. It serves as both a tribute, and a step through the next dimension of Psychedelia by pushing the bar further into the depths of the mind, yet it’s not pushed as far as say, the Spacemen 3 version which spans seventeen minutes of purely nauseating droning in a single chord.
“The 13th floor elevator are one of my main influences, even if you think you can’t hear it that much in Aqua Nebula songs! To me they are the incarnation of the spirit of LSD and parallel dimensions, as much in HP Lovecraft! I love it, so raw, so aggressive and beautiful at the same time! Real poetry.”
The album is populated with a much softer mellow groove than any of its immediate predecessors; a move Sphaèr’os was nervous about, but it resulted in some beautifully mind expanding pieces that balance out the hard rocking numbers with skilled precision.
“Spiritus Mundi is one of the only Aqua Nebula albums that you can play on an acoustic guitar, that was my goal for this album! I was so fed up playing improv freak out tunes. My other goal was to sing with a proper voice, without going out of tune. Hahahah, really difficult, at least for me because I’m not a proper singer! Spiritus Mundi is not at all a “let it go” album, everything was composed before the studio, but we played it nearly for the first time together while recording.”
All artists should take a cue from David Sphaèr’os and his wild ambition. He doesn’t just follow, he is a born leader in his crusade to make music that speaks from the very core of the earth and begs humans to see more than what is in front of them.
“My music is more for human beings, telling them to please not live like the walking dead, that everything is possible in life. Don’t be miserable because we are creating our own lives. If we’re miserable it’s because we choose to be miserable and that is no good! Let’s enjoy life strongly, do totally what we want with no barriers, enjoy each moment strongly, even if we’re going to die tomorrow, who cares! Hahahah!”
The music created is composed on his terms entirely. He is wise and seasoned in his knowledge of theology and paranormal philosophy; his knowledge is professed to a massive degree with his body of work. There is no trace of pretentiousness in the living organism that is Aqua Nebula Oscillator. If you listen to music for more reason than just a distraction from your drive to work and enjoy the darker side of music, it’s highly advised you check out their collection of work. Listen to the full album streaming here!
– Hunter Gatherer (The Forgotten West)