Review: The Space Cossacks

The Space Cossacks
““Tsar Wars””
(MuSick Recordings)

“What’s a Cossack?”  My roommate asked as I inserted the CD with odd cover art into my computer.  “I think it’s one of those hats that artists wear,” I responded.  Turns out I’m wrong.  According to Webster’s, the Cossacks are peoples from the southern Soviet Union noted for their prowess as cavalrymen – obviously intrepid explorers unafraid to do things their own way.  The name jibes quite well with the unique, instrumental sound on the “Tsar Wars” LP.  Imagine surf music in the 27th Century.  Something the Silver Surfer would listen to on his headphones as he slashes his way around the galaxy.  There you have The Space Cossacks.  While the majority of quasi-surf music is nothing more than old Ventures’ rip-offs, Guitarist Ivan Pongracic and his supporting cast create fifteen moody, instrumental tracks amazingly unlike anything on the market.  Besides simply picking out the “tiki-tiki” two-tone usually associated with surf music, The Space Cossacks are able to infuse a myriad of convincing ethnic beats into their work: such as Latin spice on “Fiesta Del Cossacapulco” and even a transcendental, Middle Eastern feel on, “The Apes of Wrath”.  These much needed changes of pace keep “Tsar Wars” from being just another mediocre instrumental CD with odd cover art.