Primordial Undermind - "Thin Shells Of Revolution"
(Emperor Jones 2003, EJ58)

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: November 2003

Primordial Undermind on this album have a similar approach to instrumental space-rock as Hawkwind, though they have some more modern indie-psyche influences as well. I didn't care much for "You, Me and the Continuium" released in the late '90s, but this one rules. "F.L.I. (Flaming Lizard Inauguration" builds up with a totally original riff, segues into a really pleasant space with synth and gorgeous lead-guit (I was gonna say Eric Arn, the leader of the band, but BC Smith is credited with guit, too), then gets back into that epic riff again. Otis Cleveland is the group's Uncle Nik, blowing on all manner of things, though mainly cosmicly-tweaked sax and flute ala early Hawkwind. Synth sounds are provided by Vanessa Arn-maybe the "triwave picogenerator" is the same type of box used by ST 37 as it's a similar cold-wind sound that's produced (both groups are based in Austin, so that helps the theory). Jared Barron, Courtney Cater and Matt Martinez play drums, bass and drums respectively.

I usually skip "There is a Time" as it's a pretty bland cliche '60s pyche tune, though probably a cover judging by the credits. Besides that, the only fault I can see with this album is the weak rhythm-guitar sound. Though distinct, it's way too gritty, thin and low, not appropriate for their powerful space-rock style.

After a couple minutes of ambience, "Theme From Serpent" explodes into space on a rumbling bass/tom-tom jam with swirling winds and asthmaticly aquatic sax, though I thought they shoulda let this bit stretch out longer. "Wwoo?" is another great instrumental jam, this one more laid-back, kinda pastoral, mellow flutes, soft harp-like guitar droplets. Great mood. "Akaknow" is an intense inspired space-rocker ala Farflung. It explodes, draws back, then swirls out again all over the place. I especially like how the trance-like lead-guitar lines chase each other in a circle. "Stagger the Heart" is slow, somber psychedelia. Arn's voice isn't particularly powerful or unusual, but it's a great melody. On the other hand, if vocals had been included on "Ten Toes, One Soul", it might have been one of those tunes that could have perked up the ears of some commercial radio programmers, that's how epicly catchy and sadly moving this riff (and all its spacious accompaniment) is. Wow. Editor Jerry told me that "Kinky Sex (Makes the World Go Round)" is a Dead Kennedys cover. WHAT??? A lengthy start-stop avant-jazz assault with all the winds, horns and tronics thrown in, no doubt Otis Cleveland's in the middle of this mess; I don't know what the instrument is called, but he even gets down with something that only sounds like an Arabian sax. Still, I usually cut this one out (and the other cover) and let the cosmic psyche flow.

For more information you can visit the Emperor Jones web site at:
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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg

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