Quarkspace is a long-lived and cultily esteemed spacerock band that's actually a prog jam ensemble carrying on a too infrequently honored tradition: the hoary theme-n-variations and amorphous improv smorgasbord so popular from the '70s whence it established. I long ago wrote a feature-length article on the group in Progression magazine (a rag I do not recommend to anyone), chronicling the catalogue of various releases, sub-projects, and changing personnel, but the core characteristic has ever remained unflappable: the extended instrumental freak-out.
This music isn't for everyone, lacking the melodic spine and structures usual to the more mainstream musics, but it's also a wine for the connoissieur of the offbeat, albeit the DIY offbeat, a quality that's part of the group's charm. The reference points for this brand of progressive fare would be, in the high-end realm, the Ozric Tentacles, Hawkwind, Gong, Guru Guru, Radio Massacre International, and the general Europrog spacefaces so crucial to the development of the entire movement. Vastly superior to Klaus Schulze's fledgling Cosmic Jokers, Galactic Supermarket, Cosmic Couriers, and whatever other nomenclature the elder gods went under, Quarkspace has more a Froesian seriousness to them (Jay Swanson's one of the few keyboardists who will use a straight piano in the blend), intent on creating art while having a great time…not just screwing around while whacked out of their skulls as Gottsching, Leary, Schulze, and the rest of the psyche-kraut kontingent seemed to be way back then…a milieu they never returned to, I should mention, once their musical gifts and sense of aesthetics matured.
On the other hand, it woulda been nice to have had this music around when I was doing all those drugs in the '70s, the effect would've been wonderful, but that doesn't mean *Spacefolds 9* doesn't also sit very well with the unnarcotized mind in the '00s. This isn't top-shelf stellar material—oh, say, a la Mike Oldfield—but the lads have always been reliable and worth the listen and purchase (cheap too!), presenting a lush galactic playground to drown in; which means you can pick any Quarkspace release, not just this one. and be quite happy. As Sun Ra perpetually averred, space is indeed the place.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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