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Dead Angel #44, January 2001


The cosmic jokers from Beantown have done it again, whipping out one
of the trippiest albums ever to come swirling down the cosmic wind
tunnel. Like Pink Floyd's SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS cubed and slotted into
a quadratic equation containing integers derived from Hawkwind, F/i,
and the whole whaling kingdom o' Krautrock, the impact of this disc is
less a matter of "listening" than something akin to having an acid
bomb explode between your ears. Crazed, semi-psychotic stuff that
pinwheels in all directions at once like a drunken octopus, but played
with startling clarity and precision, this is the kind of thing that
will turn your mind inside-out if you listen to it long enough. I
think Abunai! just advanced to the head o' the psych class with this

The interesting thing is that while the album sounds basically like
one long, inspired live psych jam, it's actually anything but that --
in fact, the album was assembled from miles of instrumental jams
captured on tape over a long period of time. Apparently the band jams
a lot with the tape rolling, just playing without conscious thought as
to how it might work on an album, and after accumulating a large pile
of these tapes, they decided to layer them into a giant spaced-out
sonic omlette just to turn the average listener's mind to mush. To
that end, they spent a long time ferreting out pieces that would work
together, then layered them on top of each other -- sometimes
backwards -- just mixing and matching until they emerged with
something that met with their collective approval. The result is a
long album of 21 tracks that flow seamlessly into one another with
often mind-altering results; the "songs" (each listed individually
with titles on the cover) are actually more like movements in one long
epic piece. (My favorite song/movement is "Drowning in Light," the
longest single section of the disc at 12:56, in which a UFO guitar
dips and hovers in hypnotic, shimmering fashion while lots of other
sounds swirl around it.) In some places the layers are stacked mighty
high indeed -- the opening track, "The Sound Museum," has at least
twenty tracks plowing away at once -- and the results are
disorienting, mainly due to the depths of sound. No matter how hard
you listen, burrowing down into the layers, if you listen just a bit
harder you can hear even more happening in the background... and if
you dig even deeper, even more than that. It's truly a sound without
end, a space without borders, in which guitars and organs and drones
circle and weave without ever settling.

The track listing is entitled "Chart of Dimensionless Numbers," and
that's appropriate... if fractal patterns could be encoded as music,
they would sound like this, i'm sure. Patterns build on other patterns
and morph into yet other ones, until the sound becomes so dense, so
thick, that it practically threatens to implode. How they managed to
mix this into something listenable is beyond me. (And make no mistake,
the sound clarity is remarkable, especially given the wild number of
tracks at work.) The effort they put into the selection of tracks to
merge together is obvious (at one point they color-coded the tapes to
make sure they didn't have too much material continuously running in
one key), and the organic feel of the resulting tracks is amazing --
it all comes together so well that it's hard to imagine it wasn't all
done in one session as a continuous whole. More entertaining than
swimming in a vat of drunken eels and probably healthier to boot....

Bonus points for the packaging, too (a faithful reproduction of a pack
of guitar strings, enclosed in a polybag), even though its odd size
does pose a problem for storing on my shelf. By gaw, this disc is so
luridly over-the-top in its psychedelic excess that it sort of makes
me regret that i gave up smoking dope....

-- RKF

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