Comets Ov Cupid – Vril Kosmische Urkraft
On his Bandcamp page, Comets Ov Cupid mastermind Jason Kesselring describes the project as “gothic space rock.” It’s a concise description, and not wholly inaccurate, but Vril Kosmische Urkraft encompasses quite a bit more in terms of genre. The Minneapolis-based project’s third full-length is a wild chariot ride through buzzing hollow-earth drones, meandering krautrock riffage, black metal influence, and fuzz—fuzz everywhere. Though the album’s title and thematic inspiration might lead the uninitiated to expect something in the neofolk vein, it’s an entirely different interpretation of Norse mythology and the work of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t occasionally delve into folk territory as well. Sure, you could slap the album with the “space rock” label and be mostly correct, but it would also be a massive understatement and a great disservice to the artist.
Vril Kosmische Urkraft is a lot to absorb, to say the least. Kesselring has an interesting method of layering textures that can be imperfectly compared to building a harsh noise wall. Although the project is primarily guitar based, there are all kinds of good things buried underneath the thundering riffs: drum patterns and vocal samples, more riffs, and a muted guitar solo. All of it coalesces, more often than not, into a seething barricade of fuzz. While tracks like “Sleipnir,” with its frenetic fretwork and breakneck drum loops, carry a strong metal influence, the album’s finest moments come when the artist dives headlong into psychedelia. The uneasy bad-trip drones of “Ultima Thule” segue perfectly into the finger-picked intro, haunting and resonant, of “Valknut.” Though clearly adept at experimentation and pushing the boundaries of sound and genre, Kesselring’s talents are most evident when he incorporates traditional elements into the mix.
Purists of any stripe won’t be thrilled with the release, but being a purist isn’t very much fun. There are elements of Hawkwind and Can in there, but also some nods back to the English prog-folk that inspired Kesselring’s earlier project, Skye Klad. In some ways, Vril Kosmische Urkraft draws comparison with the frantic genre-hopping of Yussuf Jerusalem; in other ways, there’s little to compare it to. Despite drawing from a large pool of often disparate influences, one is never left with the impression that these are employed for novelty’s sake, or as devices meant to distract the listener from one flaw or another. Vril Kosmische Urkraft has its share of flaws like any other album, but a lack of cohesion isn’t one of them. The album has a clear sonic purpose, and it fulfills that by incorporating the right amount of experimentation at exactly the right times.
01) Mysterium Cosmographicum
03) Viking Spacecraft
04) The Hollow Earth
05) Ultima Thule
09) Eternal Ice
Written by: Rebecca C. Brooks
Label: Independent (United States) / None / CD, Digital
Space Rock / Kosmische / Drone Ambient
Comets Ov Cupid “The Traumatic Impacts Ov Infinity”
A live solo electroacoustic set at the Kitty Cat Klub Mar 16, 2016.
Acoustic/Electric guitar and loops :Jason Kesselring
12 Mins of the 45 min set
Thunderbolt Pagoda is a progressive space rock group from Minneapolis and are absolutely fantastic. So when they asked me to collaborate with them for Kosmische Drone set for the Drone Not Drones (http://dronenotdrones.com/) event I jumped at the chance. Here are some pics of our performance that night.
Comets Ov Cupid’s third full-length, Vril Kosmiche Urkraft, hitches a broken krautrock space capsule to a black metal horse and drives it through the astral plane. At the reigns is none other than Jason Kesselring (see also: Skye Klad, The Satyrswitch) – whose guitar skills remain as impressive as ever. Alternately atmospheric and spacious; heavy and labyrinthine – Vril Kosmiche Urkraft – journeys across the Nine Worlds with skill and ease and we lucky listeners get to experience the ride. ( Comets Ov Cupid )
Comets Ov Cupid – “Western Lands”
From Aural Innovations #42 (May 2011)
Minneapolis based Skye Klad evolved from a fuzzed out space rock band to a trippy, psych/folk outfit under the leadership of guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jason Kesselring. Around the same time as their third (and last) album, Plays the Musick of Cupid’s Orkustra Asleep in the Magick Powerhouse of Oz (2004), Kesselring also launched a solo project called Satyrswitch to continue to explore his interest in more acoustic sounds through folk and traditional country songs.
Perhaps a play on the name of another band Kesselring was in, Blitzen, Comets Ov Cupid is a solo project from the one time leader of Skye Klad. 2007’s Metalgazer, the Comets Ov Cupid debut EP (also sometimes just credited to Cupid) was a single 20-minute long drone/ambient/metal monster. On his latest, Western Lands, Kesselring draws on all his possible pasts but takes those sounds into exciting new directions.
Spectres Ov an Airstream Futuropolis is perhaps one of the more striking album openers I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s a sweeping, eerie and majestic ambient piece that perfectly conjures up the ghosts of some incredible city of the future that never was; the lost soundtrack to Hugo Gernsback’s vision of the shape of things to come. Kesselring then plunges headlong into blistering space rock with cuts like Starship, Babalon, Jack the Rocketman and the instrumental freak out of the title track that recall the fuzzed out rockers of the early Skyklad, but if anything, they up the distortion factor from those erstwhile days to near brain melting levels. Oddly enough though, there is something quite intimate going on here. Kesselring plays all the instruments on the album himself, and often buries the percussion and drum loops deep in the mix, which gives the music less of a band dynamic, and more of a personal feel. This is Kesselring’s journey, to be sure, but fortunately he’s invited us along for the ride. Along the way there are some ambient excursions as well, such as Wanderlust and Ever So Slowly, both deeply layered with fuzzed guitars, organic sounds and strange voices; both unique and different from each other in their own ways. Kesselring also treats us to his acoustic interests, but shies away from the folksiness of Satyrswitch in favour of something a little more esoteric, in the form of the desert blues meets Middle Eastern meditation of Raven Creates the World to the distorted finger picking of the haunting album closer, Moonshot.
Despite the presence of some truly intense space rock, there is something deeply contemplative about Western Lands. Like Metalgazer before it, that invited us to stare into the abyss, Western Lands summons you to travel across a bleak and snowy landscape towards a horizon edging upon a star-filled sky…and to whatever lies beyond. Highly recommended!
For more info, visit: http://www.cometsovcupid.com a