There seems to be a trend these days, especially in certain psychedelic space rock circles, for bands to either name themselves or their albums after obscure 1950s science fiction films. This seems wholly appropriate to me since these films were very often represented the new frontier, the place where human kind would go next, while at the same time very much exploring the human condition. These films often reflected that which we fear the most, the enemy within: both within our society and within ourselves. This is appropriate because the bands in question tend to have a spacey other-worldliness about them, have a kind of retro-futuristic vibe around them, and, through motorik repetition, really take the listener to somewhere else entirely; whether that be to imagined other worlds or just away from our everyday reality.
Radar Men From The Moon (RMFTM) are one such band, being named after a 1952 series of 12 shorts, directed by Fred C. Brannon who was responsible for a whole string of these low budget movies – and his rapacious output tells you something about the quality of the films themselves. The same could not be said for Strange Wave Galore, the third album from this Dutch instrumental three-piece which is a very good development from their excellent first two outings, Intergalactic Dada & Space Trombones and Echo Forever, which were a great amalgam of astro and astral sounds. They were out there, in many senses of the word.
Strange Wave Galore is, in many ways a more conventional album (these terms are relative) which, for me, shows a band developing in confidence. The opener, Surrealistic Appearance begins on a low hum, which is gradually subsumed by first a very mechanical hammer sound, early-Cure guitar, and a throbbing baseline while the rest of the track builds up to a great crescendo of reverb taking you on a space-rock journey into the imagination (check out the spacey video for further proof).
The second track, Reverie, is much more abstract with lots of spacey organ and weightless clicks and bips, very Can. It is like an interlude before track 3, the amazing title track and, for me, centre-piece of the album, kicks in. Without Reverie before it I would not have the high power impact that it does. The Neu! thrusters have well and truly been fired and we are off into deep space with its huge fuzzy sound…quite breathtaking.
After that we need to catch our breath, and the beginning of The Sweet Confusion facilitates that with a slow build into a cacophony of sound from which anything might be possible, and what comes next is a synth sound that I recognise very well from the days of my youth. Lautréamont begins with something that is early Numan before settling into a Krautrock-inspired beat that is totally hypnotic. It is a track that could last a minute or twenty minutes, and goes straight into Opaque which, for me, sounds like we are being drawn towards our destination with hints of hope, and much of the darkness of previous tracks being put behind us, before the final track. What The Lightning Said is like the grand entrance into a new dimension with its crashes and bangs and a fitting finale to this 36 minute tour of the cosmos.
For me then, if you had not guess already, Strange Wave Galore is like a journey; it is a coherent piece of work that works best if listened to as a full album. I find it at different times strange, thrilling, and thoughtful. I really hope that I have a chance to see RMFTM live this year as I am sure they will be an exciting prospect.