Space Hymns by Ramases (Vertigo, 1971)

Space Hymns 1971-2

Space Hymns 1971-1

Ramases

A neglected space-rock classic, Space Hymns (on Spotify) is the brainchild of Sheffield-born Barrington Frost (sometimes misreported as Martin Raphael), an erstwhile central heating salesman who, in the late ’60s, had a revelation that he was actually the reincarnation of one of the 11 Egyptian pharaohs named Ramses (it’s unclear which one).

The music is driven by Ramases’ always present acoustic guitar, strong melodies and vocals (some contributed by Ramases’ wife, Selket), and lots of space in between the multilayered swirling. It’s also sludgy at times, and uses drone to achieve an ambient effect, especially on “Molecular Delusion”. “Journey to the Inside,” while obviously influenced by The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” anticipates the kind of sonic experimentation Roger Waters would use on Dark Side of the Moon. Backing musicians for the Space Hymns recording sessions went on to form the successful UK art rock band 10cc.

Ramases’ second and last album, Glass Top Coffin (1975), is better than the first, in my opinion: trippier but also more focused, with stronger production and gorgeous arrangements—a near perfect translation of the inner-outer space excursion.

The Space Hymns album cover is a six-panel gatefold, by the way, painted by the master, Roger Dean.

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