Mushroom - Analog Hi-Fi Surprise

Year of Release: 1999
Label: InnerSPACE Records
Catalog Number: 7708
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:00:00

I'll admit that my main listening focus isn't music of this genre, but when I received an email promoting this upcoming disk, I was intrigued. The review copy arrived Friday and already I've played it at least a dozen times, and I wasn't even in review mode yet - I like this that much.

So, here it is Sunday, just about noon, and this, as the blurb that accompanied this says, "Psychedelic jazz fusion, space rock and electronica mix with mellotron, moog, and Rhodes piano..." release is getting its 13th or 14th play of the weekend.

San Francisco based Mushroom's Analog Hi-Fi Surprise requires a whole different listening perspective from, say, neo-prog. There is so much going on, at the same time, in different meters that it can, at times, seem chaotic. All that gives the tracks here a certain edge; there's a fervent energy throughout most of it. While this kind of music can become so disjointed as to lose any sense of cohesiveness, Mushroom manage to avoid this. There is a certain measure of control, despite the improvisational nature of the music. Just when you think the keys, guitar, bass, whatever, are going to spin entirely away from the rest of the instruments ... it finds its way back again.

The album opens with funky percussion, slowly joined by thrumbing bass, and then searing, tightly controled guitar lines appear ... only to be consumed by bulbous keyboard notes ... imagine ... well, imagine something I can't quite put into words but it involves giant, horizontal bubble blowers and equally giant multicolored water bubbles escaping toward a seafoam colored sky ... (all without the "benefit" of drugs).

"Rackets" is the second track in and may be the most "accessibile" for those looking for that kind of thing - while the drums (Patrick O'Hearn*), guitar (either/both Erik Pearson and/or Dan Olmstead), and bass (Alec Palao) give this track a 60s instrumental surf rock feel ... overlying this is a sound that I can only describe as telephone dial tones, repeating in a "do-----do do" kinda way. Beautiful and weird all at the same time. And fun, light ... great track.

"October 1970" is a keyboards led track ... Rhodes, I think, and played by Michael Holt ... atmospheric, with violinistic qualities. Melancholy and sweet, but not without its small share of other sounds. This is haunting and beautiful and one of the many highlights of the album.

"Our Buddy Miles" is jazz fusion rock ... how else to describe it? Guitar lines are bent and twisted, fuzzed ... a choatic journey. Will appeal to Djam Karet fans, as well. Open, airy, and light without being lightweight - this is accomplished musicians showing their chops and experimenting with them.

Track 5 squeaks and bubbles, mostly just below the surface ... soon, a saxophone slowly rises up, though the most dominant sound is the percussion. Sax and guitar come together in unison ... uh-huh, there is that interplay like passionate sex ... the title of the track is "A song of remembrance for a time when wife swapping was considered politically correct." The song builds and builds slowly, like ... well, you know. And then climaxes (why do I hear Beavis and Butthead twittering somewhere, having said that?) ... or does it? as there is some very wet, percussive sound here, too ... a plungerlike sound that will also make you think of bedsprings. But, don't get too hung up on that ... I'm sure the music begat the title, rather than the title begetting the music. Sonically, this is an interesting track as it takes on, subtly, different textures as some unique sound is found and explored. All to return to the beginning ... the routine of our lives, perhaps ... while the track itself doesn't plod, compared to the rest of the track, this is much slower paced and rhythmically the same (and a bit melancholy, too; wistful).

The production on this disc is great, giving you the feeling that you are in the studio with the band. It has a live, raw feel and yet the dynamics of each instrument can be clearly heard; O'Hearn handled the production and mixing duties.

I truly don't listen to enough of this kind of music to tell you whether it's the best thing since ... since the last best thing in this kind of music. What I can tell you, that even as a primarily neo-progressive rock listener, I found I really dug it. I've listened to it about a dozen times already since it came to me on Friday (that'd be three days) ... and each time I find something new ... some new sonic exploration to focus on.

In a way, this improvisational, psychodelic music seems more natural to me then overly composed and arranged pieces ... there is more of an immediacy here ... it truly comes from within and is of that moment. For those interested in sonic exploration, seek out this disk when it's released in September.

[*But not the Patrick O'Hearn, I don't think. I'm sure this Patrick (if it's not that Patrick) is sick of these kinda footnotes and parenthetical comments reminding folks of that fact.

The Magic Of Michael (5:15) / Rackets (5:15) / October 1970 (4:48) / Our Buddy Miles (11:06) / A Song Of Remembrance For A Time When Wife Swapping Was Considered Politically Correct (9:09) / The Evolution Of Smells In An Underground Parking Garage After An All Night Rave (9:25) / Abbie Hoffman (12:02)

Michael Holt - Rhodes electric piano and mellotron sounds
Erik Pearson - snake guitar, flute, saxophone
Graham Connah - organ, keyboard textures, analog sounds
Patrick O''Hearn - drums, bongos, and percussion
Alec Palao - 4 & 6 string bass
Dan Olmstead - lead guitar

Mushroom (?)
'The Reeperbahn' (1997)
Alive And In Full Bloom (1998)
Cream Of Mushroom (1998)
Hydrogen Jukebox (1998)
Analog Hi-Fi Surprise (1999)
Leni Riefenstah (lp only) (2000)
Compared To What (2000)
Foxy Music (2001)
Glazed Popems (2004)
Really Don't Mind If You Sit This One Out (2006)
Joint Happening (w/Eddie Gale) (2007)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: September 7th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 856
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]