Various Artists - "Beard, Bread and Bear's Prayer's"
From Aural Innovations July 2009 update
Okay, absentmindedly skipped over initially but always relevant, this is an essential compilation featuring mostly SF Bay Area people, focusing on the Comets on Fire/Six Organs collective, beginning however with Albert Ayler's "Truth Is Marching In", a kind of free-jazz interpretation of... something familiar, I'm not sure what. Very anthemic, patriotic-sounding, a sweet crisp noise of wailing violins, sax and such, plays another familiar old ditty, then melts it down w/free-drums and all manner of squonking horns, recorded live in Germany in '66. Then Monoshock "Crypto-Zoological Disaster" - the opening tune from their already-classic over-the-top feedback-laden heavy-as-a-mother garage-psyche/punk slab Walk To the Fire from '95. The Collosal Yes "Honeycreeper Smiles" is a bit of a sad but pleasant kind of piano ballad, which subtley grows on you with each listen. Japanese legends Ghost follow with "Piper", a '70s Brit-Prog sounding tune with traditional folksy flute, not one of my favorites of the collection though. The Electric 6 Organs of Admittance - a slow stomping blues groove is the live "Close To the Sky", a beautiful tune, nice guitar. Michael Yonkers turns in an obscure ditty from '68, the "Swamp of Love" - definitely classic. Let's just call it "swamp-psyche", a delightful bluesy croon, a catchy chorus. "oh my dear i fear you're sittin' on my face"???... very groovy, finger-snaps and mouth-sounds ala Syd-era Floyd. Then turn yourself around quick for Shit Spangled Banner's brutally fuzzed-out beyond-heavy noise-jam "Cuntshine", awesome! Some more ballsy blues follows with Brother JT's cathartic "Country Blues" - wow, Brother shouts his guts out here and it's a beautiful thing, then segues into the excellent "Be With Us" with its groove and whistful guitar licks. Like most of the audience recordings on this collection, the sound here is fairly lo-fi but trust us, after these tunes have worked their way into yer bones, you'd have it no other way. Joshua's "Look Floating" is just a beautifully dark folk tune, and that's all I can think of to say about it, except if you like Vortex Navigation Co, you'll dig this. 7 Year Rabbit Cycle is a rather frightening free-punk/hardcore noise bashing - yikes! They really mix it up on this disc. Comets On Fire aptly closes the album with an out-take from Blue Cathedral - haven't heard the album, so maybe this one didn't fit or fit in, but good thing it saw release 'cause it's a fantastic screaming boogie, like a cosmic Cactus or something, a kind of '70s heavy that few bands have revived.
For more information you can visit http://www.cometsonfire.com
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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg