FMWT #22: Spiral Galaxy w/ the Shining Realm
Trumpet Blossom Cafe — Saturday, June 1 at 9 p.m.
Kosmische Musik, often times called Kraut-Rock in America, is what the youth of Germany created after being turned on to the psychedelic sounds of the U.S. and England. As the hallucinatory effects of LSD culture faded in the UK and the States, the revolutionary heads of Germany gathered in communes and began turning out experimental pop music that only Japan can begin to compete with.
The kosmische scene of the late ’60s and on through the ’70s gave us bands like CAN, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel and Amon Duul (I and II) among many others. The term does little, however, to include the full variety of “out-there” sounds. Also found under the umbrella are bands like the robot-obsessed Kraftwerk, the danceable motorik of Neu! and the long-form synth odysseys of Cluster and Tangerine Dream.
The term kosmiche expands from the modular, to the jazzy, to screaming, astral-effected guitars and to automaton pastiche. It is this expansive realm where Chicago’s Spiral Galaxy have found their garden to play in.
In their own words, Spiral Galaxy (Sara Gossett, Plastic Crimewave and occasional member Hands of Hydra) “create devotional voyages via flute, guitar, sitar, drum machine, drones and other sonics to conjure the kosmische vibe of cosmonauts like Cluster, Yatha Sidhra, Achim Reichel, Amon Duul 1, Ash Ra Tempel and early Kraftwerk.”
Gossett is an artist/illustrator, musician (flute being her primary instruments) and DJ. She was born and raised in Texas and lived in Virginia for 15 years before relocating to Chicago two years ago. She’s been commissioned to do album art and illustrations for websites.
Her love of psychedelic music had early origins. “My parents had records around the house and played the oldies station,” Gossett said. “I was listening to newer stuff in college but I came back around to it. You realize there’s a lot more out there and you keep digging.”
Chicago-native Plastic Crimewave (aka Steven Krakow) has an article’s worth of various projects himself. He is creator of the Galactic Zoo Dossier, a hand drawn magazine published by Drag City, as well as artist and writer on the bi-weekly Secret History of Chicago Music in the Chicago Reader. He also runs the Galactic Zoo Disk reissue label and the label roving Galactic Archives. Steve fronted the Plastic Crimewave Sound, which toured with the likes of High on Fire, Acid Mother’s Temple and the Ponys. Currently, he heads the space-punk band Plastic Crimewave Syndicate.
Krakow’s interest in psychedelic music was “an extension of, as a kid, listening to the oldies station and classic rock stations,” he said. “The top of that was what I got interested in. Also, hearing the first Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground albums in my late teens.”
Spiral Galaxy started two years ago while the pair were in England touring of Krakow’s Sir Plastic Crimewave album Feathered Serpents (which Gossett played on and contributed art to).
“We needed songs to fill out the set,” Krakow said, “so we took these weird, little songs of mine and filled them out.”
“That’s when we started working on our own stuff,” Gossett added.
In those short two years they have managed to share the stage with the Velcro Lewis Group, cult psych-folk hero Mark Fry and kosmische legends Faust. The pair have recently been finishing their first album together.
“It’s almost done, after a year,” Krakow said. “It’s four songs. Four very long songs. It’ll be out this year.”
Spiral Galaxy appears June 1 at 9 p.m. at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe as part of the Feed Me Weird Things series. Tickets are $8 or included with series patronage; the show is free for ages 20 and younger. Look out for their fantasy-folk take on kosmische, as it will surely be a trip into the weird.
[Ed. note: This article’s author is a member of the opening band for the June 1 performance. You can hear the rest of his interview with Spiral Galaxy on his podcast, Where the Eye Meets the Pyramid.]