Smile Politely

Experience Fotosputnik This Saturday at the Courtyard Café

Trapped in my own closed-mindedness, I have a narrow view of what space rock is. It has always been early Flaming Lips and bands like Hum singing about Mars or stars or any other easily rhymed celestial objects. Aesthetically there’s droning and reverb and whatnot, but I don’t always associate the term with it’s origin — freaky, space-themed progressive rock from England. For better or worse, the slow-tempo, instrumental psychedelic jams by Pink Floyd rarely make it into my listening schedule.

Fotosputnik, based out of Chicago, thrusts themselves into the aforementioned genre through their name and style. The trio synthesizes the new, grungier side of space rock while maintaining the lunar landscape sounds of the greats that have come before.

Their yet to be released EP, Fur Dir, is a four-track, 33 minute trip into the unknown. The 10 minute opener features layers of droning guitar and undulating keyboards over stray tom hits and cymbal crashes. The feedback-laden instruments seem at risk to deteriorate into full fledged noise, but as the beat becomes more cohesive a melody emerges and the trio’s skill as space conductors shines through.

Though the self-recorded EP really showcases the band’s skills, the drums often feel as if they are actually floating in space. With dramatic tom rolls and extensive use of the kick, the occasional lack of a strong bass line leaves the drummer suspended in the infinite abyss. When the bass does kick in though, the band’s tunes take on a driving and hypnotic quality that would do a psychedelic wall projection some justice.

If you like to be taken out of the atmosphere and float in a sea of Space Odyssey-esque synth lines, head to the Courtyard Café to see Fotosputnik along with The Fleshtones and The Hentchmen this Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $3 with a student ID. Expect Fotosputnik’s debut to come out in February by The Static Cult Label.

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