DarXtar - Aged To PerfectionSweden’s self-proclaimed space rock-revival pioneers DarXtar have stuck with the programme despite their kind of space exploration falling out of fashion and mainly being kept alive by old bearded professors and optimistic hippies.

However “Aged To Perfection” is actually more concerned with our own planet (as well as being a rather witty comment on the bands vintage). It may therefore be no coincidence that the whole album is laced with a melancholy perhaps for the lost optimism of youth as much as our ailing planet.

If you think of ‘space rock’ then of course one band looms over the genre like a giant ganja cloud and indeed the presence of  Hawkwind can be felt in the occasional oscillations and saxophone skronks. These guys wouldn’t still be doing this if they were some tired tribute act though and have a sound of their own that tastefully mixes just as much Pink Floyd classicism, Beatles-esque melodies and Crazy Horse crunch.

This is a classy album, alive with musical invention and masterful and subtle performances. Stand-outs include the title track where the band worry our planet won’t get a chance to be “Aged To Perfection” – ‘Relax on our plastic chairs/we’re sitting on our hands’ and the equally eco-conscious ‘In Green Heat’ which manages to be both laid-back and poignant.

There are several shorter instrumental passages joining the songs that bring to mind Can, including the ominous techno fever of ‘Morkret 2’.

The only point at which the band perhaps slip too far into the kaftan and beads territory is on ‘Some Things’ which I found rather drippy. However, considering I’m more of a fan of Steve Harris than Steve Hillage, I’m enjoying this album a hell of a lot more than I anticipated.

Closing song ‘Fiska Pa Grasmattan’ is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard this year. This sorrowful piano-lead epic is unmistakeably indebted to Pink Floyd but brings together many of their influences into one satisfying whole. An unexpected gem.

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