Cranium Pie – “Mechanisms Part 2″ (Fruits de Mer Records 2015, 2-LP)

It took nearly four years but Cranium Pie have finally released the follow up to 2011’s fantastic Mechanisms Part 1. Mechanisms Part 2 is a 2-LP set with a single approximately 19 minute track on each side. Though untitled, each side has distinguishable segments, though they typically flow fairly seamlessly from one to the next. But titles mean little here as the whole is like a tour de force of Prog-Psych-Kosmiche Rock circa 1969-73. Follow along as I stream of conscious describe this 4 sided experience and you’ll get a flavor for what Mechanisms Part 2 is about…

Side 1 starts off with an intense narrative segment that’s like a cross between Arthur Brown and the early Brainticket albums. This segues into a bouncy jazzy Kosmiche and orchestrated jam with swirling effects and haunting backing vocals, and a lead vocal that sounds like Frank Zappa. Additional treats include Jazz propelled Space Rock and soulful Psychedelic Prog-Blues with impassioned vocals and guitar leads. Side 2 begins with more jazzy Space Rock, augmented by luscious trippy fluttering flute leads and sweeping Mellotron-ish waves. This leads to a brief but delirious collage-like blend of early Pink Floyd song, spaced out cut-us with wild narratives, leading to a spaced out Hendrix bit that serves as a quickie stepping stone to a Prog-Jazz jam that’s like the Cosmic Jokers doing a freaked out rendition of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, followed by more Arthur Brown meets Brainticket heavy Prog intensity, and then a spaced out, soulful organ led jam with brief but crazy narrative samples and effects. Side 3 comes roaring out hot ‘n heavy with a fiery Prog-Funk rocking jam, which abruptly veers into a mélange of narration and effects that soon settles into a tripped out tune that sounds like some kind of Frank Zappa/Peter Hammill hybrid taking a whack at symphonic Prog-Psych, though freakiness abounds as we roller coaster zig-zag through a hair raising series of thematic twists and turns. When calm briefly settles we find ourselves floating groovily along with a cool Bluesy Psych jam, though lysergic disorientation rules the day via a crazed circus of effects with an underlying Pink Floyd foundation. This is followed by more high intensity yet soulful and jazzy Kosmiche rock, dark Van der Graaf Generator symphonics, spaced out orchestral rock, cosmic Jazz-Funky Soft Machine, and a bewildering parade of cut-ups and effects that culminates in the utter shock of a beautiful Folk-Prog song that concludes Side 3. Side 4 kicks off with a mixture of cool grooving Psychedelic Prog-Jazz jam, led by a killer Kosmiche organ sound. I really dig the dreamy and spaced out vocal song segment, which is followed by an intense slab of Space Rock and mindfucked montage experimentalism, including a surreal combination of wild narration, hypnotic organ, loose tripped out jamming and freaky effects, eventually morphing into a Doom-Prog song that retains a Jazzy feel and all the wigged out effects. And on we go, continually evolving, morphing and transforming. For pure Cool and Strange factor, Side 4 takes the cake.

So… how did that sound? Pretty crazy? Wildly disjointed? It’s not!! Cranium Pie stand on the highest mountain top holding up their influences like stadium lighting, throw them all into a bubble bubble toil and trouble cauldron, and through exquisite production and studio craftsmanship send the results streaming montage-evolution style throughout the four sides of this set. HIGHEST recommendation!

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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