Jan-Simon : Why practice when you can also jam? That is the philosophy behind the Australian trio Frozen Planet 1969 in a nutshell. Their fourth album ‘Electric Smokehouse’ – thanks to Dutch label Headspin Records the first that is more or less available in Europe – is in the end nothing less than one big psychedelic jam session. That’s not a problem. The only risk when such a session is put out as a record is that it quickly becomes incoherent.
Frozen Planet 1969, through its drummer linked to that other Australian addition of Headspin Records: Comacozer, manages to evade the pitfalls of psychedelic improvisation. Inevitably, comparisons with genre pioneers such as Earthless come up, but the Aussies hold their own. Even to such an extent that one wonders if the band really had no plan when they started playing. Of course, the music goes in all directions, with recurring bass-drum patterns over which guitarist Paul Attard (remember that name!) plays one freak solo after the other. The bass and drums define the course and lay a foundation on which Attard builds a gothic cathedral of sound, complete with buttresses, gargoyles and lush ornamentation. The direction is obvious: higher and higher, to the skies. This is space rock in all essence.
To Frozen Planet 1969’s credit, the songs on ‘Electric Smokehouse’ are to the point, despite all improvisations. Okay, with an average length of ten minutes, that’s only relative, but at least there are no record side spanning projects of 25 minutes or more to be found. To keep that interesting is difficult and almost automatically leads to segmentation. Frozen Planet 1969 chose the proven Can approach. Just like this Krautrock phenomenon of the past, the undoubtedly endless jams have been edited into more easily digestible bites. A good choice, even though the two longest songs here could have been cut up in two or three separate ones each. It does not really matter that much, with or without the fade out and fade in between the songs, ‘Electric Smokehouse’ remains a very nice listen for everyone who thrives on mushroom and other hallucinogen driven freak rock.