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Comets on Fire - Field Recordings From the Sun

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Artist: Comets on Fire

Album: Field Recordings From the Sun

Label: Ba Da Bing

Review date: Aug. 22, 2002

Where's My Bong?

Damn, I think my Valium™ wore off at the same time that the acid kicked in, and now I've lost track of just where I'm supposed to be. But there's this music, this hard, thick, noisy, chaotic rock music, and it's to blame, it really is...

Comets on Fire indeed – these Field Recordings from the Sun demonstrate that melted guitars can sound just as good as the real thing. Maybe better, for that matter. This is old school being funneled into the future, garage rock unearthed from the tomb and infused with solar energy. These four Bay Area fellers grafted echoplex and oscillators onto a hard rock trio from hell and discovered that the results are a stoned avant-rocker's wet dream.

Don't be fooled by the gentle percussion, bells, and quietly droning ambiences during the first minute of "Beneath the Ice Age." You'll be sorry when everything gets quiet for a second, and then the band kicks in with their searing heavy-fuzz guitar assault. Echoing vocals and blaring guitar solos roar around in a primitive scuzz that's kind of like a cross between High Rise and Tad, perhaps – not a bad thing at all. Makes me want to plan an MGD-keg tailgate party and dose the drinkers.

The band's quartet is not afraid to augment themselves with various friends along for the party, including sax player Tim Daly on a couple of tracks, and the infernally-gifted Ben Chasny on various types of guitar abuse as well. The increased density just adds more spice to the mayhem.

"Return to Heaven" opens with eerie guitar feedback, then the bass kicks in with a heavy distorted line and the drums join the fun. It plateaus quickly, with the guitar's trippy tremolo vibe and vocals that are reverbed garage rock shouts. The guitar lead, when it arrives, is worth waiting for, searing energy that does indeed sound like a return to Heaven...fuzz paradise. The lull immediately following is deceptively calm, as if the band has finally arrived at peace, but don't be fooled: it all explodes again soon enough, leading to a fiery finish after all.

Chasny's alter-ego, Six Organs of Admittance, makes an appearance on "The Unicorn," which displays his ineffable hand at gorgeous acoustic guitar playing. Few can match his expressive playing these days, I say. As the short song progresses, the beauty of the acoustic guitar is slowly but surely overwhelmed by wailing electric guitar destruction, leading into the bang and crash of "ESP", all screaming guitars, pulsing bass and drum bashing. This is probably the most straightforward, rocking, hardcore stoner rock song on here. It reminds me somewhat of the Nishi-Nihon album (Acid Mother's Temple side-project), though the weird oscillator/echoplex stuff by Noel makes this somewhat more twisted.

"The Black Poodle" starts out quiet and ominous, with rumblings, quiet feedback, and weird electronic burblings, then opens the massive-rock floodgates. This one includes the participation of guest Tim Daly on alto-saxophone, which blends in almost as if it were part of the guitar feedback here. The vocals are even more echoing and blended, so they just float along amidst the chaos. This song has so many people and so much sound going on that it's amazing you can make out anything at all – but you can, believe me. Yeah, the sound's somewhat murky, but it's all there when it matters, and the density's part of the charm. This sucker's ten minutes are almost all pain, all gain, though to be honest the "anarchy break" about five minutes in loses the song's momentum briefly. Don't worry, though, it returns not long after, with competing guitar leads running riot over slow, sludgy doom-rhythms. With neat-o stereo separation, you can rate the leads independently, though they're all good, man, they're all good.

This album's thirty-six minutes are quality over quantity, just the way I like it. First Major Stars, now Field Recordings from the Sun – 2002's proving to be the year of fucking great outer-space rock, and aren't we all lucky for it?

By Mason Jones

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