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V/A - Mind Expanders, Vol. 1: In Seach of the Orgiastic, Flashtastic, Psychspastic Groove

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Artist: V/A

Album: Mind Expanders, Vol. 1: In Seach of the Orgiastic, Flashtastic, Psychspastic Groove

Label: Past & Present

Review date: Apr. 20, 2009

Maybe teen angst used to mean something, back when there was a war on, man. Maybe fuzzy, distorted guitars sound more “raw” and “authentic” than any of the slop polluting post-millennial “modern rock” radio. Maybe the rise of psychedelic “consciousness” was an occasion for unbound courage and optimism. Maybe the Baby Boomers used up all the good times. Regardless, pop music was always a shameless racket. As soon as there was an identifiable “movement,” there was always a cadre of gleefully cynical tricksters there to mock and exploit it. And while the paradoxically way-out and with-it thought-leaders of the ‘60s get revered into irrelevance, all the cruft and dried bubblegum of that most overrated of decades seems to get more and more alluring for our current epoch’s music-nerds. Bashing the ‘60s was a ‘90s thing. But digging up its most embarrassing moments survives as a rewarding pastime.

Mind Expanders isn’t the only collection of ‘60s artifacts on the racks, obviously. Before the first Nuggets box, before the neo-garage fad… yes, even before Sweetwater, this era has been repackaged ruthlessly enough, and it will keep getting drained until the well is emptied down to the last few Tommy James outtakes. What makes this ‘un interesting is that, in the manner of the like-minded archivists at Arf! Arf!, P&P homes in on the most absurd, most ridiculous, most outwardly exploitative relics. Perhaps any “zeitgeist” can be best understood by the work of those who spend that time mocking it, whether or not they knew what they were doing. In more practical terms, this is a bonanza of wine-through-the-nose oddities and potential samples.

Aside from the spoken intro to Los Diablos’s Tijuana-Brass-in-space toe-tapper “21-7-69,” Mind Expanders is all instrumental, and it’s got all the psychedelic elevator music any healthy person could want. The most dated material? Probably the preponderance of tracks that play their melodies with clunky sitars, including two Stones covers, the fuzzgasm “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” and the paranoid mini-symphony “We Love You.” Much of the balance is surprisingly self-contained, particularly the blistering snarl of Distillation’s “Blue Phantom” and the spastic proto-punk of Sun Rock Rodeo Roundup’s “Afternoon Breakdown.”

By Emerson Dameron

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