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Luna Julian Marszalek , October 21st, 2008 12:41

The Aliens - Luna

Psychedelia, much like the psychedelics that create it, comes in many shapes, sizes, universes and guises. Be it taking a mental spring clean, or dissolving the ego, or determining one’s place in the vastness of the universe while becoming more empathetic to others and the world around you, there’s always something to be found to alter the state of one’s consciousness to the degree that one wants it altered to.

Likewise the psychedelic trio of The Aliens. Formed from the ashes of The Beta Band, The Aliens’ debut album, “Astronomy for Dogs” benefited from the kind of cornucopia of ideas that most bands would struggle to achieve in a single lifetime. Huge in scope and fuelled with a sense of fun that’s often to be found in short supply, The Aliens’ joyous noise belied the psychotic incident suffered by frontman Gordon Anderson at the beginning of The Beta Band’s lifetime and the subsequent eight years spent putting himself back together again.

Having painted from such a wide palette, the expectations placed on the shoulders of The Aliens have been high. Could it have been any other way? Not really, because we’re talking about a band whose moves and grooves change with a consummate ease and in that respect at least, Luna succeeds.

The opening ten-minute epic of 'Bobby’s Song' is pretty much a microcosm of what’s to follow as within its confines the band moves from sunny West Coast harmonies through to the whimsy of childhood that characterised so much English psychedelia from the likes of Barrett-era Floyd and the bucolic freak-outs of Traffic and back again. It’s a feat that’s repeated on the equally epic 'Billy Jack' wherein The Aliens set the controls for the heart of the sun to embark on a journey punctuated by chanting, distortion and whimsy once again.

So far, so far out but what let’s Luna down is the lack of coherence at its core. As evidenced by the sonic ambling of 'Amen' and the title track, the album drifts into areas of pointless noodling a little too frequently, while 'Smoggy Bog' is too enthralled by Pink Floyd’s 'Astronomy Domine' to convince on its own terms.

The Aliens are blessed with such a surfeit of talent that the concepts of self-editing and censure are not easily grasped by the trio. A shame, because contained within its thirteen tracks is a worthy follow-up to their debut but as it stands, Luna is a little too much like a massive hit of DMT: unnecessarily intense and goes on for far longer than is required.