It is almost four years since Belgium space rockers Quantum Fantay released their latest studio album, Bridges Of Kukuriku (2010, see review). The live album Bridges Of The Old Fishingmine (2011, see review) was a high quality recording of one of their shows. After my previous album review, I got my ass kicked by the band, for assuming the flute sounds were all computerised keyboard sounds. The lack of information was the cause of this mistake and I humbly bow my head for forgiveness. Therefore - let's be clear - the new release Terragaia is a digipack, and lays in front of me, so my information should be correct this time. The band still consists of Pete Mush (Pieter van den Broeck) on keyboards, Dario Frodo (Glenn Ployard) on guitar, bass player Jaro (Wouter de Geest) and drummer Gino Bartolini (Gino Verhaegen). Former member Charles Sla (Karel Slabbaert) contributes, as on all the previous albums, perfectly suiting flute sounds.
Quantum Fantay is a band that plays space rock and “more”, especially on the new album, this “more” adds a new dimension to their music. Still, influences of Ozric Tentacles are obvious, but I think Quantum Fantay have taken over the lead position from the UK band in innovation and imbedding new elements into modern space rock. The album's opener is Journey To Earth; a strong composition filled with repeating riffs, loads of bubbles and intense flute playing. Hypnotizing bass lines lead you to an Oriental/ Middle Eastern style part, where the keyboards excel. The composition with the strange title Azu Kénč Dékč Lepé, will surely have a meaning, but for me this song flows away from the music they normally produce. Using authentic instruments as well as the simulated atmosphere drifts from African rhythms and desert blues to rock with Camel and Steve Lukather influences. Desert Rush combines the strong percussive elements with guitar lines reminding of Ozric, although the keyboard solos are more outspoken and there is more power during the guitar parts. If Ozric would go heavy, they would probably use Desert Rush as a sample. I don't know if the continuing Aargh is a kind of ode the famous castle, but I sure wish it is. Combining keyboard orientated space rock with medieval element, it sounds a bit like German band In Extremo on mushrooms; well done. The Eastern/Indian influences return on Instant Karma, but apart from that, the groove of this song intrigues and makes it hard for me to sit still behind the PC. Long keyboard solos and strong guitar parts go hand in hand during this highlight. Gently we seem to move further to the East, as Chopsticks An Gongs has some Indonesian percussive influences, a strong flute part and mesmerizing grooves. Frodo's guitar sounds perfect in this world of bubbles and melodic drumming. Our journey continues with Indigofera. Moving to the land down under, with Jaro's didgeridoo and throat singing as point of attention, bringing you into relaxed atmospheres. A song that definitely needs your attention, is Yah Roste Fooroap: filled with reggae rhythms and a fine walking bass that gently flows in a Pink Floyd reminding keyboard solo. This seemingly strange combination sounds wonderful, especially when the speed increases incorporating bits of ska and free style soloing. During Cowdians, space rock combines forces with American music, so we get elements from surf, Americana - Calexico style -, blues rock and hard rock, filled with a nice solo. A very strong way to show us a number of elements representing a certain part of the world. As a sort of outro, we can enjoy the lift-off during Journey From Earth; strong keyboard parts pass by, and also duels with Frodo's guitar. What a way to end the CD; going out on a high.
Terragaia ends up to be Quantum Fantay's best album so far. The trip around the world, and incorporating different styles and elements in their music, just makes it more interesting. What really stands out is; whatever atmosphere the band creates, they are still very recognizable as Quantum Fantay.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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