Mindspeak is a difficult band to describe. Hailing from Vienna, their sound is decidedly 1970s. However, I can’t quite place what band they remind me of. Maybe Pink Floyd? Like, a happier, heavier Pink Floyd? No, not quite. There are bits that remind me of King Crimson, Rush, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Atomic Rooster, and even the very underrated American funk-prog outfit Automatic Man, but I can’t say their sound is really borrowed from any of those groups. Perhaps they can best be described as sounding like a long-lost ’70s prog band.
Now that we’ve decided not to draw any band comparisons, how do I describe Mindspeak? One word: space. Not only does their grand, thrilling sound evoke images of stars, planets, rocket ships and nebulae, but these musicians masterfully use space in their playing. They know when not to play! As a musician myself, that is quite arguably the single most difficult musical skill to learn. The totally wicked album art at the top of this post is a great visual for their unique sound.
Mindspeak is a five-piece consisting of guitarist Alex Clement, keyboardist Christoph Kasparovsky, drummer Gabriel Lahrmann, bassist Simon Nagy, and vocalist Viktoria Simon-Lukic. Clement reminds me of David Gilmour at times, while Nagy has that punchy, powerful bass tone that I love. However, it’s really Kasparovsky’s soaring synthesizers that tie this band together. Add in a strong voice and solid drumming and you have a heck of a band. Mindspeak’s second album, Eclipse Chaser, was released on the first of July, and I must say, they have really outdone themselves.
The first track, “When Giants Cry,” opens with some bonkers jazz chords accompanied by smooth piano licks. The verse section features an excellent bass line and a stirring melody that gives one no choice but to keep listening. After a great chorus and a sick organ solo, the song shifts into a bridge before returning to the chorus. The second chorus is followed by an awesome guitar riff, accompanied by the organ. This is closely followed by an unbelievable bass line, leading into a great guitar solo. The song segues back into the final chorus with a brief piano section. It’s a great opening track. Next is the 17-minute “Tetrachrome,” which opens with a thrilling guitar riff and a jazzy jam section featuring dueling licks on guitar and piano. This then leads into an infectious, upbeat verse. After the second chorus and a short bridge, we hear a gradually slowing guitar riff, which leads into a mellow acoustic bit. This bit gradually builds, followed by an extremely emotional guitar solo. Following an extended jam, the song returns to the chorus, but slower. It closes with a great saxophone solo.
Next is the first part of the album’s centerpiece, “The Human Element.” Titled “I: All We Know,” it begins with a bit of piano playing. Soon, a gentle melody and an EDM-style beat are introduced, as well as a fluid fretless bass. Next is “II: Lift-Off,” a respectable instrumental jam reminiscent of Rush’s “2112 Overture.” I greatly enjoy the drums on this one. Next is “III: Echoes Of A Greater Mind.” It begins with some gentle acoustic strumming and singing before shifting into a more electric bit. The chorus features a catchy melody and some awesome, Steve-Gadd-jazz-fusion-style drumming, followed by a jam section led by an awesome bass line. Next, we hear a bridge, followed by a thrilling instrumental extravaganza. It then returns to the chorus from the beginning, followed by a lush, synthesizer-driven outro.
“IV: Starprism” is an atmospheric bit with a lot of piano and synthesizer. It kind of reminds me of Gilmour-era Pink Floyd. “V: Orbit/Catch” begins with the sound of an acoustic guitar and some elaborate, Yes-esque (Yesque?) vocal harmonies. This is followed by a spectacular flute solo and an equally spectacular guitar solo. It’s more of a ballad than the rest of the album. The last section of “The Human Element,” namely, “VI: A Light From Home,” picks the pace back up for an exciting grand finale featuring some of the melodies from earlier in the album. The outro is a bizarre, otherworldly bass-and-drum jam that sounds like it was ripped straight off a Mike Oldfield album.
The last track (assuming you’re listening to the deluxe edition) is a cover of the David Bowie classic, “Space Oddity.” This is a song that has been performed a lot of times by a lot of people, and Mindspeak’s version sounds as fresh as any of them. Their sound is a perfect fit for this amazing song. It’s a beautiful closing track. It’s only on the deluxe edition, but in my humble opinion, it’s worth a couple extra euros. If you buy this album (which you totally should), I recommend the deluxe edition.
“Eclipse Chaser” seriously could’ve come from the ’70s. It’s a beautiful album with some amazing songs and there’s not a dull moment. I rarely find an album that captures that ’70s-prog-high, as much as some bands try, but I can honestly say this one does. If you like prog-rock, space-rock, jazz, pop, or music, please, for the love of all things sacred, give Mindspeak a try.