Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Black Science's Worlds Within Worlds, Worlds Without End

"Can samplers be used to summon the 5th dimensional God entities that hide within us all?"

That's a pretty heady question, posed by those who have created an interactive musical experience far beyond the psychedelic. Black Science is a musical project from Thad McKraken, who is following up his 2012 psych-rock album An Echo Through the Eyes of Forever with this daunting, noisy and yet cosmic album that addresses such issues as "contacting star people from the heavens" through a combination of "chemical mind manipulation" and "bitchin' guitar noise." McKraken, who writes, performs and produces these seven spacey, reverb-soaked tracks, is suggesting an old idea with new gleaming surfaces--mixing hallucinogens with music to uncover the mysteries of the universe.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any mind-altering drugs for this review, so I have to tackle this straight. This is very much an album that is on the fringe, albeit with a fairly conventional foundation. McKraken does have a way with beats, melodies and song structures that suggests he has experience as a indie rock musician. Each track seems to possess a conventional center, one that's wrapped with sequencers that spiral out of control. This is a nightmarish world he presents, the antithesis of meditative, and there might be something to this idea of gobbling a few shrooms before attempting to navigate this sonic minefield. Then again, what am I missing? I remember hanging out with fans of the Grateful Dead back in the day, and more than one suggested I would "get it" if I only dropped some acid first. To this day, I still think the Dead are just okay because I didn't indulge.

On the other hand, is this real, or is it tongue-in-cheek? The one-sheet promo is downright hilarious, with McKraken's quotes about psilocybin-fueled listening parties where his consciousness "was suddenly invaded by an unbelievable cavalcade of mutating surrealist imagery filled with sea spiders, mollusks and various other shellfish." My favorite part is the end, where this question is posed: "Can you summon beings from the outer reaches just by getting high and wigging out to a psych record?" Answer: "Probably, dudes, dudettes and dudercopters." In my younger days I'd give it a shot, but my vices no longer include being a drugstore cowboy.

So I'm going to make a suggestion. If this sounds like something you might want to tackle, even though you kids should probably say no to drugs, then I won't mind if you get back to me and tell me how it went. At the same time, I have to be honest and admit I'm missing something in the translation. Is this music cool? Undoubtedly. I'm always in favor of expanding my horizons, but these days I'm a little too old for the chemical methods of doing so. But if there is some kind of stargate here, I'll color myself intrigued. Until then, I'll choose to enjoy the humorous aspects of this project--just in case I'm missing the joke and taking this all too seriously.

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