Album Review: Galactic Cowboy Orchestra – Flirting with Chaos

Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

photo courtesy of Media Stew Public Relations

Album Review of Galactic Cowboy Orchestra: Flirting with Chaos

Galactic Cowboy Orchestra‘s Flirting with Chaos is an experimental progressive rock album that pushes around the edges of prog rock, producing a collection that stimulates the mind as the music takes you in unexpected directions.

The opening song, the title track, kicks off with a dissonant wall of noise that quickly descends – ascends? – into a blend of riffs and a repetitive almost-hook amid what’s still primarily cacophony to those of us without a significant progressive bent. Having reviewed a broad variety of music over the decades, though, I totally get what they’re doing, and I know it means there’s some pretty cool music on its way – and, indeed, that’s the case here. Meanwhile, I also realize edge-pushing, knowledgeable musicians will absolutely dig it, enjoying its residence pretty far on the experimental outskirts of the rock ‘n roll spectrum. Beyond the hints at what’s to come, if you take only one other thing from the disc-opening track, it’s that near-hook musical progression that appears continually throughout the album. It’s the glue that holds this collection together, no matter what directions the individual tracks take.

Galactic Cowboy Orchestra – Flirting with Chaos

image courtesy of Media Stew Public Relations

Next, indeed, as expected, “All for the Taking” settles into a stride more appealing to a broader listenership. That near-hook from “Flirting with Chaos” actually reappears here as if it were foreshadowed, but it’s mixed into an almost prog-Blondie vibe, with some shredding guitar during the bridges, and the line “It’s all for the asking, for the knowing, for the taking” playing a prominent role.

The fiddling on “Triple S” add an Irish folk song vibe to the heavily percussive soundbed, whose steadfast progress gives way to flights of fancy during a two minute long early-to-mid-song bridge, giving way to a more frantic musical section, only really returning to the heavy nature occasionally, as other musical structures weave in and out. I’m not really sure exactly what the three Ss are in “Triple S” – low S, high S, and middle S? – but there are three distinct elements in the track.

The meandering nature and the exploring adjacent riffs, related runs, and different structural patterns continue throughout the album, though individual songs feature different musical densities and heavier or lighter song structures. For example, “Unresolved Discrepancies” exhibits a lighter, airier feel than the preceding tracks, marking a bit of a change. “21st Century Schizoid Man,” meanwhile, incorporates classic rock riffs and a punk rock attitude.

You’ll continue to recognize the cohesive style throughout the rest of the album, with subtle differences. “Jazz Crimes” bips and bops (that’s jazz terminology, right?) sparsely throughout, except for its occasional exploration of richer, fuller tones. “Woodshread” leans heavily into the violin’s most violent high end but mellowing into a more classic rock-influenced bass and guitar rhythm.

Vocals return on the second-to-last track, “No Stranger to the Fall,” which adds Bowie-like musical and vocal elements to the vocals portions, with crunchy guitar distortion and bumble bee-like dream sequences rounding out the mix before is circularly spins to its conclusion.

And “Flirting with Oblivion” closes things with a sound that’s akin to classic guitar rock noodling atop a chirping wall of sound that seems like it could be from an orchestra or recorders, though I’m sure it’s not.

In all, Flirting with Chaos is an interesting mix of influences melded into a cohesive whole throughout the album by some exceptional musicians. So, if you dig some musical, almost jazzy experimentation in your prog rock, these cats produce some really interesting soundscapes on Flirting with Chaos that’ll definitely be to your liking. And regardless of your musical tastes, as long as you like rock ‘n roll in some form, while you’ll need to be in a “proggy mood” to fully appreciate the album, I get the feeling a Galactic Cowboy Orchestra concert will be an awesome, enjoyably exhausting musical feast for the senses.

Looking Ahead

Though there’s nothing currently listed, but you’ll find upcoming gigs on the “Shows” page of the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’s website or on the “Events” tab of the band’s Facebook page.

Album Review: The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra – Earth Lift

The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

photo by Zach Nichols; photo courtesy of Media Stew Public Relations

The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra – Earth Lift

Album Review of The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra: Earth Lift

The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra - Earth Lift

image courtesy of Media Stew Public Relations

This album is a unique journey. The band itself is quite unusual, performing a brand of free-form, experimental jazz like one might expect from a progressive rock band utilizing orchestral instruments and unafraid of incorporating broad musical influences.

A most-interesting incarnation of The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra‘s sound at its free-formiest is the drum and strings-driven “The Demented Waltz,” which meanders and is occasionally infused with drum-driven energy. Another example of the group’s rambling style is on “Swara Kakali,” which is fun because the guitar and violin seem to be having a conversation throughout significant portions of the track.

Occasionally, you’ll find vocals in this collection, notably on “When the Levee Breaks,” which has a Rush “Tom Sawyer” vibe, though just a hint more psychedelic, befitting vocals reminiscent of a Robert Plant-Janis Joplin blend. Showing versatility, though, the vocals in “Poison” add authenticity to what can best be described as a psychedelic folk number.

The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

photo by Zach Nichols; photo courtesy of Media Stew Public Relations

Those particular songs stand out within the collection primarily due to their variance from the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’s central sound, that of free-from, experimental, orchestral jazz. If you like experimental music performed by talented musicians – if you like music unlike that you’re likely to hear elsewhere – then The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra’s Earth Lift is for you.

Looking Ahead

You can catch The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra live. The band’s next performance is Saturday, March 25th at Excelsior Brewing in Excelsior, MN. You can find all of the group’s upcoming performances as they’re added here on the “shows” page of the band’s website.