Mushroom - "Compared To What: Mushroom vs. Bundy K. Brown vs. Faust vs. Gary Floyd" (Weed Records 2000, WEED 7904 LP)

From Aural Innovations #13 (October 2000)

The latest from Mushroom is a 12" release on 180 gram green vinyl and includes remixes by Bundy K. Brown and Hans Joachim Irmler of Faust. This is an interesting set as it features some wildly soulful tunes unlike anything I've heard from Mushroom, as well as some of their most cosmic instrumentals to date.

Side 1 took me a bit by surprise. "Compared To What" is a bluesy rocker that screams with soul, due in no small to Gary Floyd's gruff but passionate vocals. This old Les McCann/Eddie Harris number is a bit different from any Mushroom I've heard yet but the music is peppered with bleeping electronics lest we forget this band's firm place in the cosmos. "For Men With Beards" is a slower-paced but equally soulful tune. The organ, like all keys on Mushroom songs sounds great, and John Birdsong's trumpet helps lay down the jazzy groove. "Foxy Music" has more cosmic jazz, both pounding and ambient, with throbbing rhythms, a driving industrial backdrop, cosmic horns, trippy violin, and scattered voicings.

Side 2 took by surprise too... WOW!! Space doesn't get any deeper than this. "Let's Have Sex" features the classic Mushroom brand of jazzy spaced out Krautrock. I felt like someone strapped me in a time machine and sent me back 30 years. The bass and drums keep a steady groove, the keyboards and guitars have gorgeous nostalgic sounds, and Hawkwind themselves would be hard pressed to top all the tripped out space synths that swirl throughout this tune. "Americans Own The Moon, They Bought It From The Germans, Who Won It During A Poker Game In World War Two" is a similar but more extended journey. (Mushroom sure do like long titles.) The song opens with numerous pulsating space sounds and various other electronic mindbenders. And when the band kicks in the guitars play totally wah'd freakout solos while the space rumblings continue. It soon segues into an extended ambient section heavy on the electronics, just a tad of drum 'n bass, and slower psychedelic guitars. Like "Let's Have Sex", this tune has lots to recall the early jamming Krautrock bands, but there's nothing retro about it at all.

So if you've experienced and liked Mushroom already then there's no question you'll love this disc, though some might be ambivalent about Side 1. But even if you don't you can be sure that Side 2 alone is worth the price of admission. Mushroom have a variety of interests and seem to excel at them all. And they're essential listening for space fans.

Compared To What is distributed by WEED Records. You can visit their web site.
Contact via snail mail at WEED Records; 3014 Shattuck Ave; Berkeley, CA 94705.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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