Saturday, January 1, 2011

Various Artists - A Fundamental Experiment [No Label]

A Fundamental Experiment is a compilation LP curated by Matt Erickson (Sudden Oak, Radiant Husk, the Bezoar Formations label) as a benefit for his bandmate in guitar/sax duo Sudden Oak who miraculously survived a fall from the roof of a three story building. You can get the full story here, but needless to say it's a good cause and all proceeds from the sale of this record go to it.
As far as the music goes, Erickson has assembled a who's who of the current psych scene along with a few names unknown to me. The record exists entirely of Neil Young covers, though I am not clear on how that came about I will take it. Julian Lynch kicks off with "Sedan Delivery" delivering a shambling, auto-wah'd ditty brimming with filtered vocals and tambourine. Metal Rouge contributes "Helpless" steeped in more fuzz than I almost thought possible. The vocals are obscured to the point of unintelligibility and the lead guitar ripples and scratches in static. The only thing coming through semi-clearly being the lethargic thud and crash of the drums. Good track. Sam Goldberg flips the script and brings a straight-up ambient cover of "Transformer Man" turning the electro/new wave jam into an atmospheric composition. Swanox comes next with "Thrasher." There's a minimal approach here like the Goldberg track except Swanox retains the "songness" of the original with just a voice and a vigorously strummed, fuzzed out guitar. On what has to be my favorite cut of the record, Sun Araw infiltrates "Barstool Blues" with his sleepy eyed hippie-chic for a match made in heaven. Generous helpings of fuzz and wah, great guitar leads, relentlessly mellow conga and fantastically buried falsetto vocals little the track. So, so jammable. I love it.
Side B opens with Stag Hare doing "Cortez the Killer." Layering sheets of echoing guitar on lackadaisical drums and topping it all off with soft, effected vocals, Stag Hare delivers a real nice, almost breezy rendition. Laurentide Ice Sheet, the first of three names unknown to me, changes things up with a relatively faithful cover of "Southern Man." Or at least about as faithful as a synth & drum machine cover can be. Anguished vox and octave-fuzz-laden guitar leads pave the way though. Another one of my favorites here. Trevor Healy brings an acoustic guitar (or perhaps a banjo) along for the ride on "Round and Round" which is the first of the record I think. He keeps with the overall vibe of the record supplying enough reverb to smooth out all of the corners. " Avocet is the last of the new names and their cover of "Expecting to Fly" is pretty darn good. Beginning sparsely with vocals and a lonely thumb piano, the track recalls Larkin Grimm and other such minimal folk artists. Matt Mondanile sheds the Ducktails moniker for his very capable and unadorned cover of "Look Out for My Love." Sticking strictly to voice and acoustic guitar Mondanile really just lets the quality of the song shine through. Very good track, another favorite.
This a good collection of material and the Neil Young aspect of it unites the record in an interesting way. If you like any of the artists involved here (including Neil Young) you should definitely pick up a copy of this seeing as your money would be going to a very worthy cause. Edition of 300 with silk-screened jackets and insert, though apparently Matt is down to less than a hundred copies. Get the record here.
Oh, and check out Sudden Oak too if you haven't, they rule.

No comments: