Reviewed by Nathan Ford
With a press release that compares "Islands in Space" to Dreamies, Donovan, Pete Fine, Robert Lester Folsom, McDonald & Giles, Ramases, Simones and Bobb Trimble there was no way I could not check out this latest reissue from Got Kinda Lost Records, a young reissue label that has already distinguished itself with tastes both excellent and obscure.
As usual for the label, this is an album which sounds very much distanced from the time in which it was originally recorded, and much like albums from the same period by Bobb Trimble, Rick Saucedo and Michael Angelo, this 1981 release sounds very much like a product of the very early seventies. But whereas those albums fit nicely into a sort of psychedelic songwriter niche, "Islands in Space" is a much more diverse, hard to pin down creature which in its totality is unlike anything that I've ever heard before.
LightDreams leader Paul Marcano is first and foremost a songwriter (at least as evidenced here), but while the majoritty of songs here are based around acoustic guitar and vocals, there are also huge washes of cosmic synths everywhere. These aren't just there to add subtle shade to the songs though, these are the sorts of grand huge synthesizer sounds you'd expect to hear on an instrumental German album from the mid seventies. To hear these integrated so smoothly into Marcano's gentle hippy-folk songs is quite startling. The production here is quite special too. The Dreamies comparison makes plenty of sense, with lots of stray radio transmissions and disembodied voices weaving in and out of the action, as well as plenty of moments where the gently undulating backwards guitars are absolutely the perfect compliment to Marcano's vision. Which is not to say that it's all nice and gentle either. There's plenty of searing acid guitar leads which will leave you somewhat taken aback, and there's even an entirely instrumental space synth odyssey on "Voiceless Voice" which racks up the tension very nicely - all that's missing is a HAL 9000 quote.
You've likely heard a lot of great space-rock albums, but space-folk is another matter entirely. Your search begins here:
Vinyl and CD available here (UK/EU), or here (US).