January 10, 2003

Scenic "The Acid Gospel Experience"

This is an odd record.

Having said that, I have to admit that this is one of the most enjoyable records I've heard this year. I've enjoyed ever 73 minutes of it. Cinematic music is what we're talking about here, but it's not soundtrack music, because The Acid Gospel Experience IS the main feature. On a rainy day, you could do worse than to put this on your discman--it sounds great on stereo, but better on headphones--and curl up under a blanket with a bag of popcorn.

From the first notes of "Year of the Day," you realize that this journey is going to be a very heady one. A very stacatto guitar melts into a slow melody, and you're lifted up in to a different state of consciousness, only to be jolted out by "Lightspeed," a song that does indeed send The Acid Gospel Experience into hyperdrive. A driving beat that's reminiscent of Stereolab is melded together with a rogue sitar and other kinds of noisemakers to create a krautrock Indian raga jam session. As cheap as it is to say this, you really must hear this song in order to fully appreciate it.

There are tons of other highlights to be found on this simple record. Harold Budd makes a guest appearance on "Under a Wing," playing ambient Piano as only he can. I'm also fond of the fact that this is an album with plenty of nooks and crannies, each with sonic treasures to enjoy, such as when "Lightcomb," a sad little sitar-led drone, just ends abruptly, leading into the ambient blues beat of "The Spheres." The epic final number, "A Journey Through The Outer Reaches of Inner Space," is so grand and majestic and beautiful that on first listen, it feels as if it could easly stand alone as a full-length album--though it also feels much, much shorter than its nineteen minutes!For real fun, though, place this album on "random play," and you'll create a record that's the same, yet different--and yet still sounds right that way!

The Acid Gospel Experience is one of the most surprising albums I've heard. So utterly complex, you'd be hard-pressed to notice that, at the end of the day, it's a rather simple, minimalistic record. Bruce Licher is to be commended with completing this record, which was originally intended as part of Darla Records' Bliss Out series, but then discovered that Darla had lost interest. Too bad, but not really; it just meant they spent more time on developing such an awesome final product. Good things come to those who wait, and The Acid Gospel Experience was certainly worth the six-year wait.

It must be mentioned, too, that the packaging of this record is a sleek, unique design called a discfolio, made from what looks like one piece of cardboard! It's really not a surprise, though, that the packaging itself is a work of art; Licher has made a bigger name for himself as the head of his own design company, Independent Projects Records, who have designed some very beautiful artwork for bands like Polvo, Stereolab, and Camper Van Beethoven, as well as his own bands and those on his label. It really is no surprise that a man responsible for such beautiful, intricate art would produce music just as beautiful.

--Joseph Kyle

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