Charlottesville, Virginia's CORSAIR is one of those bands whose vintage sound could just as well have been recorded last week or in 1971; which is why the somewhat ass-backwards reissue of their 2011 EP, "Ghosts of Proxima Centauri", shortly after the release of a self-titled full-length through Shadow Kingdom, should be no more confusing to fans than guessing at the band's true decade of activity.
For the record, CORSAIR hark, not from late '60s England and the period's festering blues-rock movement, as defined by bands like TEN YEARS AFTER, SAVOY BROWN and PETER GREEN's original FLEETWOOD MAC, but the modern day and, obviously, America - despite the convincing time traveling authenticity inherent in these songs.
Right from the get-go, instrumental opener "Wolfrider", recalls classic WISHBONE ASH, with its meandering twin guitar glides, swoops and frenzies, stacked on top of a seriously jazzy bass line propelled forward by solid, yet simple percussion.
Once the guitar harmonies gain dexterity on the ensuing "Warrior Woman", we're talking IRON MAIDEN instead; but nothing beyond the eponymous debut thanks to CORSAIR's intentionally raw production standards. More important is the all-too-suitable vocal delivery introduced here, which is neither as lame as so much retro-rock singing can be these days, nor prone to Gillan/Dickinson histrionics that simply wouldn't fit the musical background.
"Burnish the Blades" is next and its spacious arrangement and distinctive starts and stops cast us yet again back to an early '70s vibe, combining hard prog with lingering psych sensibilities (think CAPTAIN BEYOND, NOSFERATU) that would largely go their separate ways, musically speaking, soon thereafter.
The first time CORSAIR's whole ensemble goes awry is with fourth number, "Centurion", where the vocals lean closer to modern day metal revivalists. BIBLE OF THE DEVIL, and not in a good way - at least until the tempo and energy escalate halfway through, barely saving the song from filler status.
Much more intriguing is the ensuing "Orca" which rises from the depths on soothing Mellotron waves upon which whale-singing guitars cavort - then gives way to one more, satisfyingly complex show of instrumental interplay a la WISHBONE ASH. Only this time, it appears to be YES' Ian Anderson cooing the vocals on his way to the mid-section's outer space sojourn, capped by yet another stunning dual guitar finale.
Presently, one arrives at closing number, "Eyes of the Gods", which is introduced by the album's most direct and muscular riffing yet, and topped with guitar squeals worthy of Tom Morello! It too duly settles into an extended four pronged jam courtesy of these eminently talented and tightly-synced musicians that exceeds merely noodle-happy music to leave one wanting more as "Ghosts of Alpha Centauri" concludes.
The good news for first time listeners, keen to hear more, is that CORSAIR already have their aforementioned long-player in stores, ready to be explored, not to mention several decades of musical inspiration to tap into on future releases, with their evident instrumental prowess an asset few contemporary bands can boast of.
Likewise, "Ghosts of Alpha Centauri" handily offers a whole lot more depth - as raw as it sometimes sounds- than droves of retro-minded releases crowding record stores these days.