Belgian Cosmic Rockers Silvester Anfang Keep Their Space Rock Grounded

Silvester Anfang, Sylvester Anfang II [Aurora Borealis]

Silvester Anfang is torn. On the one hand, as native Belgians, they yearn toward spaced-out psychedelic krautrock. On the other hand, they have an odd pull towards the rootsy. The upshot is folk rock as oxymoron, with heartfelt soul and heartfelt soullessness clashing celestially across Carl Jung's sweaty underpsyche. On "Na Ragen Komt Zondvloaed," the wailing guitar fuzz both burns with tripped-out, earthy menace and plods mechanically, as if Hendrix's brain has been transplanted into a European robot that would really rather be playing keyboards like everyone else. "Boom van de Eerste Menstruatie" brings to mind Celtic Druids ritually slaughtering entranced virgins with a wah-wah pedal. And then there's "The Devil Always Shits in the Same Graves," an extended, two-part stoned blues groove with a charmingly accented Tom Waits-wannabe gutterally intoning the title phrase while the musicians club Robert Johnson and drag his limp body off toward the cosmos.

Silvester Anfang definitely seems more anchored than predecessors like Tangerine Dream or contemporaries like Acid Mothers Temple, but that very grounding makes them paradoxically loopier. Anyone can pilot a rocket toward the stars; it takes a special kind of altered consciousness to take your spaceship and try to dig a hole with it.