London WC1 ULU

...the stars are shoegazing at them...

Ah, the creaking vastness of space. Just in case you’ve omitted to dwell on the fact of your being a mere random particle in the infinite cosmic miasma lately, here come the Dark, beamed down to reacquaint you with the exhilaration of oblivion. Or something.

Bass levels are subhuman, Rasta-like muppet drummer Dave Francolini flails like a professor of flailing, elf singer Bic Hayes nuzzles his mountain of FX pedals, clearly a man in lust, and just in case you’re not getting the twinkly out-of-body experience, the stage is peppered with a firefly’s convention of fairy lights. Bic, Dave‘n’Laurence O’Keefe used to be Levitation, the far-out early-’90s mind-fuck combo within which the nuts genius of Terry Bickers fermented. In their current un-Bickered, Higher-Power Trio guise they’ve ditched the desire to cacophony on through to the otherside in favour of a more streamlined, melodic psychedelia. It’s what you might call particle accelerator rock, and mostly it’s a delicious thing – one that has recently yielded a second successive Top 40 single.

‘Roman Road’ and ‘Clicky’ space-glide up into the stratosphere. ‘Graceadelica’ reaches almost Goan beach party levels of sensual trance. Within the infinite fractal arpeggio-scapes, they ring enough changes to stop you nodding off, going all machete-riffed on ‘About3am’ and diverting into spectral neo-blues when they get to ‘Lies’. As the madly grasping hands reaching out from the front row to clutch at Bic‘s strings testify, it’s substantially an ‘axe’ trip allowing the murmuring Hayes to freefrom over his cruising buddies.

With his acid Johnny Marr paroxysms, Bic just about fills the gap where a floating pyramid containing Stephen Hawking should be. A slightly less quark-ish, more vocally blessed front figure with greater apocalyptic demeanour might help them find their way out of the shadow cast by, well, Spiritualized but still in the first phase of their trek they’re at least making their goals clear.

The endpiece ‘The Sound Of Awake’ takes epic Pink Floyd-style phosphorescence as its starting point and then sets the controls for the blow-your-mind quadrant of the galaxy with a lack of shame not seen since Ozric Tentacles were last visiting earth. Adrift from fashion, and obsessing within their bubble of backwards Hawkind noise, Dark Star are a pleasingly eccentric and beneficent presence. So it’ll be curious to see whether Robbie Williams, who came and bathed in the twinkly vortex, includes the odd stellar wig-out on his next album. The Darksters may be down in the peripheral gutter but the stars are shoegazing at them.