Brown Cyclopaedia

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The full-length debut from Richmond, VA, trio Pelt, Brown Cyclopaedia (also known as Brown Cyclop in some circles) is the most song-oriented effort in this decidedly non-song-oriented band's catalog. Originally released as a double 12" LP in an edition of 300 on the band's own Radioactive Rat label, the record sprawls into wide-open, acid-drenched vistas not unlike those patrolled by early records on New Zealand's maverick Xpressway label. Alternating simple, haunting vocals and slurred, tinkling melodic themes with dense guitar soundworlds, Patrick Best, Mike Gangloff, and Jack Rose wield a fairly standard arsenal of guitars and electronics here -- standard, at least, compared to the cache of homemade instruments they would come to employ on future recordings. The constantly shifting sonic landscape is classic outsider noise: snatches of conversation, found sound, and late-night scuttle alternating with limited but uplifting bursts of nearly straight-ahead rock. A prime example is the segue between "Green Flower" and "Couldn't See It." Middle Eastern drones float up from a cloud of guitar dust, and a tiny flash of immediate post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd might come to mind during tracks like "Phantom Tick." More than a sliver of the Sun City Girls is palpable on "Almighty." But ultimately, Brown Cyclopaedia envelopes the diligent listener in a sound city that is original, carefully constructed, and thoughtfully considered: Pelt's debut made a huge splash on the underground/improv scene for the right reason -- -it's really good.

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