Spaced Out - Slow Gin

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Unicorn Records
Catalog Number: UNCR-5006
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:24:00

Keyboards from hell open this album in order to set a certain atmosphere, an atmosphere that is soon followed by the title track, which again contains a similar approach, not in the least because of the ominous guitar accompanied by deadly strings. But then the speed changes to overload and if this weren't a CD, I would have thought that the speed on my turntable was wrong and I was playing a 33 rpm album at the single speed of 45 rpm (or even the post-war 78 rpm speed!). When the metallic sound of the guitar is left behind and all concentration goes towards the synths you could think for a minute that this is some new album by Nathan Mahl. Another important instrument that pops out of the arrangement is the superfast bass as performed here by Antoine Fafard as kind of a John Myung replica.

It becomes clear that all musicians know each other inside out, enhancing every single rhythm break to the fullest and exact to the very nanosecond. This of course is pleasant to hear as in a way it is as if each of them plays his own parts separately yet knowing it will meet the composition right on time to be "together" again with his fellow musicians. "Spaced In" is a good example of this, also incorporating choral sounds from their bank of keyboards. In the intro for "Minor Blast" the band treats itself to a healthy dose of "bass meets drums" fireworks. When I looked at who wrote the material on this album I was surprised to learn that all songs were from the hand of bass player Fafard, but now that I have heard the album plenty of times, I'm no longer surprised. This album is indeed heaven for all bass players, with Fafard becoming a progressive version of Stanley Clarke at times. "The Thing" could even be a Return To Forever song, once again putting all of the attention towards Fafard and his incredible skills on the bass. "Bright Space" delivers an orchestral feel before it introduces the jazzy approach of Eric St-Jean on piano, who in turn mingles with the orchestral arrangement that delivers another side of Spaced Out.

The final two tracks on this album are seen as a "morning" track ("AM") and an "evening" track ("PM"). Both compositions also sport the collaboration of guest musician Ronald Stewart on tenor saxophone. Of course any addition of a tenor sax kind of automatically steers the music towards a pure jazz direction, which isn't any different here. "Blue Ron Pipe AM" even can be categorised under the banner "freejazz." "Blue Ron Pipe PM" is more structured with the drums setting the pace. However both pieces do remain fairly "difficult" pieces when compared to the rest of the material on offer here. Spaced Out certainly proves to be a collective of highly competitive musicians who also, composition-wise, have one or two things to say in the domain of instrumental progressive rock!

Introx (1:05) / Slow Gin (8:10) / Spaced In (6:50) / Minor Blast (6:06) / The Thing (5:36) / E.M.O. (5:29) / Bright Space (6:43) / Glassosphere Part III (2:41) / Blue Ron Pipe A.M. (4:25) / Blue Ron Pipe P.M. (3:28)

Antoine Fafard - bass
Martin Maheux - drums
Éric St-Jean - keyboards
Mark Tremblay - guitar


Ron Stewart - tenor sax

Spaced Out (2000)
Eponymus II (2001)
Slow Gin (2003)
Unstable Matter (2006)
Live At The Crescendo Festival (2007)
Evolution (2008)

Live In 2000 (DVD) (2005)
Live At The Crescendo Festival (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: September 22nd 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Hits: 677
Language: english


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