Sterling Roswell

The Call of the Cosmos

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Ten years after his solo debut, former Spacemen 3 and Darkside member Sterling Roswell (aka Rosco) returns with the delightfully confounding Call of the Cosmos. Since his late-'80s tenure as the Spacemen's drummer, Roswell has continued his journeyman voyage blending psyched-out intergalactic sounds with thoughtful English pop. The wiggy sci-fi meandering of 2004's The Psychedelic Ubik provided plenty of blissful, trance-like events but was tempered with enough tasteful guitar pop to keep listeners engaged. Cosmos, on the other hand, goes even further down the wormhole with over half of the record consisting of highly textured experimental pieces ranging from gentle stargazing ambience ("Asteroid No. B-612") to subversive vintage psychedelia ("Counter Clock World" and "Time Is of the Essence"). Of the more song-oriented material, the lovely "Give Peace Another Chance" is the immediate standout. Full of warmly picked guitars, glowing electric piano, and Roswell's airy, laid-back voice, it's a wistful bit of pop elegance that wouldn't be out of place on a Richard Hawley album. It's followed by the seven-and-a-half minute "The Girl from Orbit in Dub" which splits the difference between dazed Mellotron spellcasting and a beautifully orchestral space romance. Later on, sandwiched between two slices of Joe Meek solar fuzz, is an appropriately "out there" cover of the Sky Saxon's late-'60s acid jam "Tripmaker." It's a fitting tribute to the legendary Seeds frontman whose 2005 album, Transparency, Roswell co-produced. As with his debut album, Cosmos is a bit uneven at times, but you have to give Roswell credit for throwing it all out there on this highly creative and generally captivating set. He adds a little bit more to the pot each time, but stays true to his innovative space rock roots.

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