Kurt Swinghammer Vostok 6

Perhaps because of his prolific work accompanying over 20 performers in the last two years, including Ani Difranco and the Rheostatics on their latest discs, Swinghammer hasn’t had much time for his own music lately; his last solo full-length, Pomo A Go Go, came out eight years ago. The new Vostok 6 was over two years in the making and it shows: this elaborate conceptual electronic opera about “space travel, the cold war, feminism and unrequited love” is a dense, fantastical tapestry of sound that delivers on its otherworldly musical ambitions. Lyrically it doesn’t always match up, like the song that keeps repeating “she was the first to leave the earth,” but it’s the music making all the statements here. It sounds timeless, as the best space music does, on a continuum with early Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson bathed in warm tones designed to accompany stargazing. The juxtaposition of acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, trumpet and harmonica amidst the bleeps and blurbles, all mixed by the guiding hand of the rejuvenated Michael Phillip Wojewoda, ensures that Swinghammer has taken Casey Kasem’s venerable advice: “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!” (Creative Engineering)