Nova Express - Space Khmer. 1987 Syndicate. LP only
Nova Express - Once in the Blue Moon. 1991 Heartache Transplant. CD and LP
When I created Under the Radar, Nova Express was more what I initially had in mind. That is, totally obscure progressive CDs from the 1980's and 90's. While I'm glad to have made the final decision to include all modern progressive bands that I enjoy, it is healthy to once in awhile throw in a "collectors" type group for you treasure hunters out there. Read the story below to see the investigative work I needed to do to get the CD of "Once in the Blue Moon".
"Space Khmer" is actually a feature in our CDRWL, as it never did get released on CD. The album was released on LP just before before CDs became somewhat mandatory for new bands. "Once in the Blue Moon", however, did what most bands of the era would do: Release their album in both formats. Funny enough, that is also the new norm. What was done in the early 90s is what is now done in the early 2010's!
Even though "Once in the Blue Moon" was released on LP and CD, it is definitely the more obscure of the two albums. I found the LP on ebay a couple of years ago (see photo above), and within the last few weeks bought the CD. What's funny about the latter purchase is I found it strictly with the search of "Once in the Blue Moon" (not Nova Express). Note the grammar of the sentence is slightly off, thus creating a unique entry. Once in a Blue Moon is a common American saying. Had the group used the proper phrasing instead, I would have never found this album! So the ebay listing simply stated in the header "Once in the Blue Moon". That's it. No Nova Express. No photo. No description. I asked the seller (once of those ebay wholesalers with a feedback total over a million) if this was by a group called Nova Express. No response - they blew me off (I'm sure they ignore all mail). But they did leave the EAN number. So I looked it up. No entry. Hmmm, now what? Wait - I own the LP. Let me see if it has an EAN number. Sure enough it did! And it was extremely close to this CD! It had to be the same album. Off went $18 from my Paypal account on that faith. And, sure enough, it was the Nova Express CD. Pretty cool, eh?
Nova Express are a band I first heard about from Freakbeat in the early 90s. Their two albums have always been difficult to find, even back then. "Space Khmer" reminds me a lot of early Amon Duul II - especially the shorter songs as found on "Tanz der Lemming" and "Carnival in Babylon" (check out the sample above). It's really apparent in the psychedelic guitar work and the accented male vocals. The organ they employ is actually an older vintage than what Amon Duul II used! No doubt they were also influenced by the post punk crowd of the early 80s, and it shows in some of the composition writing. Overall, a very good album.
Following on from "Space Khmer", Nova Express' second album is a bit more aggressive and, dare I say, punk-ish if you will. But it's still very psychedelic, especially in the ferocious guitar work and with some atmospheric distant/narrative vocals employed. The album gets considerably freakier and psychedelic as it goes. Without knowing they were from Germany, you could be forgiven to thinking they were influenced by the Bevis Frond neo-psych camp (which I think they were actually). About the only other band I've heard like Nova Express, from Germany at least, is the equally obscure Der Kampf Gegen den Schlaf.
The CD features one bonus track not on the LP: 'I Wanna Know' (7:54).
As of this blog post, I'm the only one to have rated either of these albums on RYM. As for Gnosis, I'm the sole rater for "Once in the Blue Moon", whereas there are 4 ratings for "Space Khmer".
I'm telling you, this band is obscure. And well worth seeking out!