ST 37 - "The Secret Society"
(Lost Records/Avant Garde 1998, Lost 016)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
This one almost slipped by me, since it's (as of now) an LP-only release. In the Austin, Texas quartet, brothers Carlton (Synth, Vocals) and Joel (Guitar) Crutcher are joined by SL Telles (Bass, Vocals, Keys) and drummer Dave Cameron (replacing Cisco Ryder G mid-recording). Guitarist Mark Stone has been an official member for some time now, so it looks as though these recordings must have been around for a little while.
Side 1 opens up with the dark and noisy "Translunar Junction" - not an unexpected beginning following 1997's "SpaceAge." Next, as the title suggests, "Always Say the Right Thing" features a series of spoken affirmations, whilst in the background weird carnival music is alternately sped up and slowed down. Nutty. The title track is the album's best moment...the vocals are a bit goofy and mocking, and even tortured at times, but it fits right in with the bouncy bass and swirling trippy effects. "All the Same" is for Syd-fans... maybe they copied "Astronomy Domine," or perhaps not? But it works. As does the swirly 60's thang "Sunburst Yodel 9," with duet male and female (unknown guest) vocals and some nifty slide-space guitar. Those two bracket "Section 37," a long, winding jam built on a fuzzy, bright rhythm and some fine drumming, forever building and accelerating to the end. Hmmm... now I wonder if the rooster crowing during the intro to "Ur-punk to the mooooooon!" is supposed to represent one Julian Cope? Well, anyway, this *is* the krautiest of the tunes on TSS, and certainly the band is having a bit of fun with the self-proclaimed kosmische guru.
This album is a bit of a surprise, as I thought they had been headed in a particular direction towards Can-like hypnotic music, but this is a step off the beaten track into a world of crazy fun and peculiar spoken-word ranting. (Perhaps it really has been released out of order.) I like to be surprised, and because it is still 100% psychedelic rock I support this choice completely. "The Secret Society" might not be so easy to find, but definitely worth the effort.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson