Saturday, April 7, 2012

San Francisco Water Cooler - II - On Sun Sneeze Records

After checking out the single from San Francisco Water Cooler on Sun Sneeze Records, the guys over there sent me their full length, "II". Of course this takes me ten times as long because I have to listen to it over and over the only way I know a single...a great big giant screaming, lost in the rabbit hole psych single of layered noise single that is actually 12"'s. So I finished it and am going to deliver my psych review...

The first track, "The Desert Waits Outside" lays it on thick right away, here's our big layered wandering point of view.... in case you were sort of sleeping, don't forget some buried vocals, because really SFWC is just another texture to this primordeal plasma and animal drums. Yelling out of key like an unhinged Super Vacations, or a put together Butthole Surfers hippie jam, or one of those freakout free form Sebadoh tracks. And this is one of the most freakingout-est. As this one finally fades out you have these layers of feedback and sci-fi synth which reaches seriously painful heights...or are those dying theremin squeals? By the time "Flashback starts in it's big chord territory time and a '60s sounding drum solo - this thing so far is like an unreleased rehearsal bordering on something from The Cave Bears even, or any one of those damaging Feeding Tube releases, but mercifully they let up every now and then for air, pausing the mayhem with this chorus chant vocal. The chunky scuzz chords are making this work against the sometimes sensitive breathy vocal. "Massive Darlings" has a jangle distortion panning back and forth with big decay. Those stupid music series were wrong, THIS is what I call music, this damaged pop experiment masquerading as psych which could only happen on the home 4track drug out to the garage or uhaul storage room. A synth guitar getting as alien and opaque as Gary War. A real 'shit show' as the interns like to say. This evolves into a heavy distort-o bass warble that's so familiar, I'm debating if it isn't a cover of some kind. From huge cathartic freakout down to sensitive quiet beautifully mic'd metal guitar instrumental with some slow down vocals off an old tape. This one is a demo tape lost in the back drawer and sung with abandon....a psych landscape. Minimal with huge towering peaks... at night it's a pretty scary place.

The B-Side starts out with a little jam of weird percussion and then opens up into "Your Life is a River" which sounds recorded in a huge hall where they've taken this guitar experimentation to a serious level with layers of scary vocals. Scary because they don't seem to be following any kind of melody... all the instrumentation is establishing room for long guitar solos. Tom blowout achieving a free form psych, hints of melodies rise out of both channels of vocal along with a tired tarzan beaten cry. Everyone is off on their own trip in the rehearsal space Beefheart feel.
"August Receipt" is a quieter electric instrumental with slow crash rolls and picked intricate big warm guitar tones. Far off feedbacks warp in from outer space. They seem to find some kid of quiet hypnotic space to let these arrangements work themselves out. It slowly builds the delayed feedback distortion to a wall of slide guitar bends. A more contemplative guitar then rises out of the back of this with all the delay in the world. No drums. A journey of guitars. One is straight, and one is a mess coming home drunk all the time.
For "Exiles" I like that we're always getting pieces of the ongoing process... the hum of cables literally the whole way this is coming together second by second. Some kind of horn is blasting away, vocals in the right channel only, possibly overdubbed later? Looking for a melody after the fact, more abstract catharsis, looking over at a storm brewing a million miles away.
"April in the Orange" rounds out the album with a down home jam acoustic and bells. Warped panned organ slide guitar with that traditional sensibility nice big tones on the end of this. Before you know though they end in this freakout. Every passive or introspective moment is destined to explode into this epic blinding-sun kind of way. San Francisco Water Cooler is in love with this mood altering moment, but coming at it in the kind of loose, even sloppy improvisational way that those moments happen in real life. It's never perfect, it won't ever line up just right like in the movies.
This is the way it is, buried in the mire...a perfect unplanned moment.

Sun Sneeze Records has copies of this one, go check it out.

Side One
1. The Desert Waits Outside
2. Flashback
3. Massive Darlings
4. Reverie
5. Reflection Refrain
6. Pond Leak

Side Two
1. An Intro
2. Your Life is a River
3. August Receipt
4. Exiles
5. April in the Orange

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