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sh-man-tra: Cornucopia (CD, 67:37); Cranium Music CRM003 These guys cover a wide sonic spectrum from electronic meanderings to what I call “alternative angst grunge prog”. I sense that very early, experimental Pink Floyd on track one, with voice-overs and random synth acoustica. Saucerful of Secrets, perhaps? Percussion builds, reverby, distorted, underwater guitars are layered in with more analogish synth spurtings. Things never seem to go anywhere for 8:30 then for 2:15 some sense of a song occurs. It is one heck of a long opener to set the scene. Next 9:00 track is more spartan on effects but adds vocals, echoed distant shouts, overdriven guitars, and a sprinkling of ethereal synth strings. I guess some folks might call this a distant cousin to spacerock jam. Track three, “Guinii”, finally got around to kicking up the dust with monster guitars and bass warped into a distant black hole’s event horizon. Yeah! Alas, only 4:14 of such. On the next few tracks things get whacked again with weird synths, infinite-repeat guitar patterns, bongo-tom drumming, reverby riffs, and such for about 4:00 and then lazy-hip-cool vocals slide in with outbursts of big-grunge-guitar refrains and then a big-noise-distortion-heaven, Band of Susans finale after 10:07 or so. More similar guitar meander-jams follow for the next three tracks. They each work slowly through wide-open-spaces, simple guitar amblings, and progress to assorted “big-finish”, crescendo complexities. Last track breaks the pattern with vocals in a balladic, folk-rock dirge. Very ‘70s guys. A bit of Buddhist monk, infrasonic, deep-bellows chanting adds interest too. I suppose this is neo-psychedelia-avant garde-grunge prog. Truly a bizarre journey on this disc -- I remain puzzled. What just happened to my head? ~ John W. Patterson
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