Space Rock

Progressive rock music has its roots in the mid 1960's psychedelic cultural phenomena. During that time the British Invasion and folk-rock bands began to expand the sonic possibilities of their music. These groups slowly started to abandon the concise verse-chorus-verse patterns of rock & roll, and moved towards fluid, free-form oriented song structures. Just as important was the incorporation of elements from Indian and Eastern music, along them the principles of free-form jazz were included to the psychedelic sound, emphasising spontaneous emotions over calculated and estimated compositional constructions. Experimenting with new studio technology, electronically altering instruments and voices, was a part of this altered approach as well. The boundary dividing the Experimental and Progressive classification is a thin and at times contested one for this era. The pioneering psychedelic progressive rock bands can be characterized as Proto-Prog. Amongst these pioneering outfits are acts like The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Vanilla Fudge. Psychedelic progressive rock music may contain the elements previously described in varying combinations, but the artistic perspective of progressive rock is another factor. Some psychedelic rock bands stuck to the mid 1960's beat rock style in purist form, not partaking in the experimental development of the impressionistic possibilities of psychedelic rock music others spearheaded. The evolution of the psychedelic depth within a progressive context could be seen for instance in the 1960's recordings of Arcadium and Baby Grandmothers. One good example of early 70's Continental European progressive psychedelic rock is the album by Ahora Mazda, and from Britain Jade Warrior's early efforts fuse psychedelic rock and ethnic music. Current artists exploring the vintage 60's-70's style and sound are acts like The Spacious Minds and Acid Mother's Temple. The entire Western pop culture scene was influenced by the psychedelic culture to some extent, including other prog sub-genres such as Prog Folk. In Germany, artists influenced by the British psychedelic movement formed their own genre called Krautrock. The pioneering early 70's bands in this genre represent the progressive acid rock sound of Germany, experimenting with long instrumental improvisations, emphasizing the use of psychedelic effects and weird electronic sounds. The Progressive Electronic sub-genre emerged from Krautrock. Some of the most influential artists of this sub-genre, such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, explored a distinct psychedelic musical style at first, which was influential for the development of the Space Rock sound.

The late 1960's psychedelic rock scene also spawned the birth of the Space Rock genre. The pioneering acts of this genre assimilated Krautrock elements like repetitive hypnotic beats and electronic/ambient soundscapes as they moved away from the common musical and compositional approach. The synthesizer with its bubbling tones and spacey patterns, provoking a gliding flow, is a typical instrument of this genre. Guitars are by preference played with glissando technique and delay/echo effects are heavily used, and elements originating from reggae/dub are fairly common. Several bands combine their live performances with lightshows using random fractals. Albums in this genre will often include at least one long meandering jam based on a main theme, where loops and wavelike fluctuations provides slight variations to this structural foundation. Stories, images, song titles and album names referring to cosmic themes are fairly common features of the genre. Hawkwind's live album Space Ritual is said to be the ultimate space rock album due to the collaboration with science fiction author Michael Moorcock. His lyrics are performed by a narrator and underlaid with synth elements.

Hawkwind-Upside down (Space Ritual, 1973 UK)

Hawkwind-10 Seconds of forever (Space Ritual, 1973 UK)

Hawkwind-Magnu (Warrior on the Edge of Time, 1975 UK)

Pink Floyd can be regarded as pioneers of spacey music during the band's early phase, as exemplified by certain tracks from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn or the stirring live performance of "Careful With That Axe Eugene" from Ummagumma. 

Pink Floyd-Astronomy domine (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967 UK)

Pink Floyd-Interstellar overdrive (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967 UK)

Grobschnitt provides another fine example of classic space rock with their epic effort Solar Music. Other bands explored the space rock sound for a limited time period only. Gong released groundbreaking albums in the genre at the start of their career, while British hard rock band UFO released the extraordinary album Flying-One Hour Space Rock as their sole contribution to the genre in 1971. 

A space rock scene can be found in most countries sporting artists producing music with a western-oriented or influenced sound. Swedish bands are known for a brisk exchange of musicians among each other. The Strange Daze festivals from 1997-2000 showcased the American space rock scene. Japan is an inexhaustible reservoir of artists exploring both psychedelic progressivce rock and progressive space rock. Representative examples of the style are bands such as Oresund Space Collective with their focus on long grooving improvisations, Quarkspace and Ozric Tentacles with their stronger emphasis on electronic elements and Vespero and Hidria Spacefolk with their inclusion of ethnic-originating musical components. Other groups like Escapade and The Legendary Pink Dots represent an avantgarde approach to the genre, whereas Subarachnoid Space and Kinski are examples of artists that provide transitions to the Post Rock genre.

Eloy-Decay of the logos (Ocean, 1977 Germany)

Kingston Wall-We cannot move (Kingston Wall II, 1993 Finland)

Oceansize-I am the morning (Effloresce, 2003 UK)

Vespero-Gao Zult (By The Waters Of Tomorrow, 2010 Russia)