Tarkus Magazine review (Richard A Toftesund). Kindly translated by the editors there. This is a Norwegian print magazine of progressive music.
With the second album "Dreams No Longer Hesitate", the multi-instrumentalist James Huggett and his unit Combat Astronomy made a certain impression in the European counter-rock environment last year. Here, he presented an insidious and strong formula relating to the 70's Zeuhl, 80's noise, 90's doom and present time minimalist drones, mixed with free jazz of the renowned saxophonist/clarinetist Martin Archer, all topped by the confident but otherwise human voice of Elaine DiFalco from indie group Caveman Shoestore.
Secondly, Huggett appeared with his project at the RIO festival in Carmeaux to lackluster response from a trained and blase avant-garde audience who was not at all impressed by unproportioned walls of sound, the absence of chemistry between the musicians and something ominously reminiscent of amateurish appearance. Even among those who been impressed by the album, there was the tendency to write off Huggett from here, something which makes Earth Divided by Zero a critical point in his musical development. The album then also is a continuation through strenghtening and perfecting specific aspects of the band's established sound.
And it all turns out to work - moreover it exceededs all expectations. From the wordless singing and into in the bass/drums/Hammond introduction of the grim opening cut ÇAstralizedÈ, via bent poly-rhythms under coarse fuzz strings and strangely well-sounding vocal phrasing in "Parallax of One Arc Second", to the monumental three-part title track, where extreme sonic considerations develop into a chaos contract between instruments and the impulses that influence. Huggett can hardly be accused of being special delicate, he reduces almost all sound matter into an essence that he funnels the music through (a bit like Guapo, Tarantula Hawk and Yeti before him, even though none of them sounded quite like this), and the continuous components - grinding and crushing bottom drive under odd rhythm coordinates, furious free solos on top, sudden quiet breaks over equally monomanic theme motives - are not wavering an inch on this disc.
Consequently, chances are that Combat Astronomy are just as happy to confirm the prejudices against them, but I personally would like to commend Huggett for keeping such a rare vision. Very few, if any, are making music like Combat Astronomy today.
Brad at CD Baby
The band calls its music an "intense hypnagogic industrial/jazz/prog/doommetal hybrid," and while that's certainly accurate, when it comes to unapologetically intense compositions like these, it's best to simply forget the labels and just let the music do the talking. If you're the kind of person who can appreciate a band that's gutsy enough to kick off their record with a six-minute track that starts off with echo-y chants and evolves into rattling bass riffs that you'll feel through the bottom of your feet, this is your kind of music. And if your kind of music is the kind that follows no template, is happy to either delicately flick your ear or bludgeon you through the skull, and thinks that mixing free jazz and doom metal makes perfect sense, than why aren't you listening to this band? Because, seriously, even if you're the kind of person who's sick of everything, you'll want to hear this. You haven't heard anything like it. And you may not ever again.
Google-fish translation below. Butchers the Italian language but you get the jist.
'Fun every now and then read the influences that allow groups to be in the composition of their songs. In the case of American Combat Astronomy the list is surprising to say the least:
Magma, Meshuggah, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Hawkwind, Godflesh, Sunn O))), Soft Machine. Kate Bush, God, Black Sabbath, Can, Amon Duul and many more.
Magma? Meshuggah? Sunn O)))? Soft Machine? Miles Davis? Kate Bush?? How can they live together with the founders of the most violent zeuhl tech-deather the globe? How can the extreme noise of Sunn O))) to find his way if approached jazz rock? How can harmonize with Godflesh's Hawkwind?
We start from a distance, the draft Combat Astronomy was founded in 1998 by the mind of James Huggett, fond of industrial, electronics and noise. Are added as the line-up Martin Archer, Elaine di Falco, Mick Beck and Mike Ward and the proposal begins to take shape disturbing. After three albums released over eight years, here is the latest work: excessive, redundant, unsettling, psychologically as never before.
The mixture we anticipated: experimentation in the wild, rock in opposition to the rock in opposition, as the zeuhl is raped by a blood Huggett of distorted guitars and rhythmic dance unsafe battery alienating clarinets.
Astralized playing with the compass of genres, starting with an Arabic vocalism to flow into a regurgitation doom / avant metal embellished by an unexpected Hammond, the restless and dissonant piano One of Parallax Arc Second opened a track in which the avant-garde underground telluric polyrhythms destabilize the listener, noise, industrial, double-core following in Eating Backwards, an extreme version of the proposal of miRthkon, again, the tripartite title track, there propina cocktail so far (poorly) absorbed in a relentless succession of cyclones metal, delusions ethnic (in the second part of the song), space-doom storms devastated by the usual flourishes of the saxophone, borrowed from avant-jazz rock tradition, the eternal 14 minutes of The Atrocity Commission: as the title, atrocious Mescid between ambient, electronic , jazz and metal twisted, coats, inaugurated by a robotic, futuristic riffs, here's International Parachute, anaphoric trace harassing, built on a strong bass guitar and backbeat.
Divided by Zero Earth disturbs the listener, drags him into a contaminated area, where musical genres are devouring each other, resulting in a massacre of melody and rhythm. The record is of course forbidden to euphony lovers, for what concerns garde lovers ... well, could you give us a little thought, especially those who appreciate certain works of Kajo Dot, and Zu miRthkon. The album in two words? Excessive, but brave.
See you soon, dear Combat Astronomy (in a few years, however, after we made a pear of Spock's Beard)!