Occasionally you want to listen to something that is a departure from the norm, to be taken through various free-form journeys with no defined destination or resolution in mind. It can be difficult to find such treasures as half of the search involves trying to understand exactly what is going on. It leaves one in a place where if you’re unfamiliar with what exactly it is you’re looking for, then you won’t recognize it when it pops up. Italy’s La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio (Death Comes from Space) is one such ensemble. Composed of an open gathering of players, the group combines flavours of Middle Eastern scales, droning synths and guitars, flutes, the frantic, progressive and abstract elements of early The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall,’ and some pieces by Emerson, Lake and Palmer on their release “Sky Over Giza”.
Stylistically it’s not much of a stretch to imagine the music as part of a soundtrack to a film, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the group takes its inspiration from older motion pictures. The band name itself likely comes from the original title of the 1959 Italian film The Day the Sky Exploded.
It opens with the EP title track Sky Over Giza, a synth laden soundscape which gives a mental image of pyramids, ancient mysticism and strange happenings in the sky. With a heavy emphasis on flute and Egyptian melody, the hypnotizing mood swells and breathes as its expression expands. It doesn’t really move or relent in its ritual hypnosis until the second track Zombies of the Stratosphere kicks in, where there’s a mixture of Rock Opera and dark electronic ambience. Cutting and delayed vocals address the listener, partnered with flurrying flute work. The only part that really grates on me the wrong way are the theremin dive bombs that are way too forward in the mix.
Sigu Tolo, another name for the star Sirius, is the third track of this EP. The title hints at a people named the Dogon who lived in west Africa and were supposedly visited by extraterrestrials 5,000 years ago and given astronomical information of some sort.
It would appear that the whole EP is intended to be the soundtrack to that event, but that’s just a guess.
The bonus track, Fever, is a refreshing change of pace! It reminds me of Sleep and Tool a little, featuring fuzz-enriched guitar droning about, and a very low and pleasing rumbling extending through the entire track. It is perhaps the most ambient track and my favourite, mainly because the theremin is pushed more into the background which relieves the distraction from earlier.
I would have to give the group high praise on the originality and approach to weaving this tale. It is an enthralling listen and epic in scale for 35 minutes of music in the way that standard music structure doesn’t really apply here, save for the ubiquitous 4/4 time signature. There are no choruses, verses, riffs, only a confluence of sound, atmosphere and melody.
My chief complaint is the best song of the collection was relegated to being a bonus track and the main feature being a little unfocused. Though that might be the whole point of the way the group composes music, it’s an interesting choice they made and one that I personally feel hurt the EP a little.
That being said, it’s a great piece of work and La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio should really pat themselves on the back with this. They created an excellent if not at times flawed soundtrack that will be sure to elicit quite a few mental images.
GET YOUR HANDS ON LA MORTE VIENE DALLO SPAZIO’S ‘SKY OVER GIZA’ FROM THEIR BANDCAMP HERE!