The Californian quintet Comets On Fire are the latest standard-bearers for gonzo psychedelia, their forte being swirling arrangements featuring plenty of cosmic effects ("echo electronics" courtesy Noel Harmonson), and a couple of guitars perpetually engaged in screaming dogfights. The not-so-secret weapon, however, is drummer Utrillo Kushner, who blasts off the opener, "Dogwood Rust", with a percussive avalanche that sounds like some berserk cross between Keith Moon and free-jazz legend Rashied Ali. Kushner's always straining at the leash, and it's his rabid manner that gives the band an intensity denied some of their peers. "Jaybird" is like Quicksilver Messenger Service launching into jazz-rock exploration, while "Sour Smoke" blends drone-chants and pow-wow percussion into a sinister ritual soundtrack; but the intensity drops when Kushner takes to piano for the heavy-handed prog-blues ballads "Lucifer's Memory" and "Hatched Upon the Age". Whatever style they're using, however, it's hard to decipher the lyrics - which, given the past history of psychedelic rock, may be no bad thing.
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