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V/A LIKE BLACK HOLES IN THE SKY – THE TRIBUTE TO SYD BARRETT (Dwell Records, USA, 2008)

Now this is quite a surprise! A tribute to the the founding member and original master mind of PINK FLOYD, Syd Barrett who died 2 years ago.
I could start telling you how much I always loved early PINK FLOYD and how I fell onto my knees in front of Syd Barretts musical genius, but truth is, I used to pretty much detest PINK FLOYD in my young years. When I was 14, my teacher forced the whole class to the cinema where we had to watch “The Wall”. Sure, I could relate to the pictures and I too felt like a victim of fascism when I had to get up at at 7 in the morn just to go to school and had my head used as a dump for all kind of nonesense. But why on earth had the music to be so dull yet pompous? Why didn’t these rock stars scream out their anger? I didn’t get it. Besides, the girl who sat next to me and looked a bit like Brooke Shields in her own semi-erotic version of Robinson Crusoe, didn’t tolerate my wandering hands, whereas the same theater had turned out to be a perfect little fun park during AC/DC’s “Let there be Rock: The Movie”. It had to do with PINK FLOYD, I was sure about that.
It wasn’t until I first heard VOIVOD’s monstrous “Nothingface” LP. This LP, as you know, is a milestone (somebody’s only got to cut the grass around it) and it featured a PINK FLOYD cover version. It gave me second thoughts. As soon as I had the opportunity, I borrowed a friend’s copy of “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, PINK FLOYDS debut album from 1968. What a revelation! And how different that sounded compared to “The Wall”. ‘m sure this record made a lot of young lads and lassies way happier than the pseudo-political drivel of “The Wall”. I was born too late.

Tribute albums are a dangerous thing. Ever so often, the band that’s being paid tribute to is much better than the acclaiming bands. These albums are one terrible drag to go through. The worst case scenario is that the cover versions are so dull and dumb it makes the original song material appear dubious. That is not the case here. BLACK HOLES IN THE SKY is one of the few tribute albums I can think of that don’t really fall back behind the original band. Au contraire, it’s extremely refreshing and intriguing to hear how the bands featured succeed in pumping fresh blood in old songs. It starts off with one of the comps highlights, the incredible “Vegetable Man” as presented by KOSMOS, a band of which I never heard before.Totally awesome, staying pretty close to the spacyness of the original version. Next up are KYLESA. Honestly, I thought “oh no” as I had seen the band live a few years ago and it was total dung. But boy, they do deliver the goods with the classical “Interstellar Overdrive”, giving the song a fantastic touch of Rudimentary Peni / Christ on Parade-ism, which as you might have guessed works extremely well with Syd Barrett songs. Ace! So is INTRONAUT‘s version of the crazy “Arnold Layne”, another cover that’s not too much on the experimental side. “Matilda Mother” by STINKING LIZAVETA is good, but not as great as the first three. “Late Night” by JARBOE is a wicked, sexy track that makes you wanna do things. PENTAGRAM who cover “Flaming Lips” are sort of disappointing, but maybe it’s only because I never liked the original song. It’s a bit boring. A band named GIANT SQUID of course had to pick “Octopus”, adding a nice bit of a Violent Femmes vibe to the original song, which I think is very well done so. YAKUZA cover “Lucifer Sam” and make it sound really Doomy – heavy, mean music, great! JESU do as you’d have expected them to do: Dissecting “Chapter 24” and pressing it through what is basically the Head Of David meat grinder. Awesomest! UNEARTHLY TRANCE, another band of which I haven’t even heard the name, are back to a more conservative interpretation as is DREDG, who interpret “Astronomy domine” (this song should not be covered anymore since VOIVOD laid their magic hands on it, if you ask me). “Rats” is presented by CIRCLE and is another winner. ZODIAK close this tribute with “See Emily play”. Another outstanding song, with a lot of heart.

If you’re in the mood for the kind of entertainment that doesn’t threat you like you were an idiot, then do yourself a favor and check this out. And don’t be all too careful with that axe, Eugene.

Here’s one song for you to check out:

KOSMOS: Vegetable Man.mp3

And here’s the label’s site and the myspace site.

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