Magnasparagus - "s/t"
(Orange Entropy Records 2001, OE 060)
From Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001)
This is 43-minutes of live improvised space-psyche jams recorded by a guitar/drums/bass/synth combo in Nov. of 2000 in Blawenburg, NJ, former home-state of Steve Zimmerman's Orange Entropy label, now relocated to SoCal. (See Aural Innovations #14 Jan 2001 for the review of a related project, Dreampipe's "Nursery Fruit History" EP). Here Steve and company produce a concoction whose musical quality is fairly consistent, though the recording is closer to a sound-board tape than a mastered live album and there are places where tracks stop off abruptly mid-beat. Perhaps it's best to view this as a demo for more professional recordings to come.
The album begins with "The Year of the Quake", an extremely loose avant-space/psyche jam somewhat reminiscent of Escapade, which barely "holds together" but is fairly freaky. Towards the end the drums finally begin to settle into a beat before the sound drops out completely and track 2 begins, picking up on the same beat but obviously from a different recording source or session. It's a 2-3 minute noodle track which towards the end concedes a fairly amateurish organ riff which sounds like me hammering my parents' rickety old basement organ at the age of 9. But then it's really just an intro to the following track, "Eggshells for Breakfast"--the album's "epic", if you will, which again features the Roland synth-organ as lead instrument. Here the guy gets totally freaked out and launches all kinds of aggressive, brain-damage synth tones. I also like how the bassist moves things along with his wicked and grungey runs, which again reminded me a bit of Escapade. Things are somewhat suspended for a time in the midst of wavering synth and noisey guitar before culmitating in a segment of beautifully melodic high-in-your-head organ moves. Following is "Alaskan Sun", more like "Eggshells" but less erratic, with a good stew of the band's four instrumental components. The synth gets pretty high, but the real highlight is later in the piece where the guitar starts to weep and wail in the cosmos.
The final two tracks are untitled. The first is a noodle track, which might be interesting, but is scarred by the faulty sound which switches between stereo and mono at random. Track #7 is much better with a nice doomy bass-line setting the mood while the keys put out some nice tinkles before returning to freak-mode. Overall, don't look for great album-continuity or fancy segues, but fans of groups like Escapade, Subarachnoid Space and a number of jam-based 70s space/kraut bands should find something of value here.
For more information you can visit the Orange Entropy Records web site at: http://www.orangeentropy.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Orange Entropy Records; PO Box 1314; Burbank, CA 91507.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg