Love it or hate it -- and more than a few fans planted camp in the latter territory -- there’s no arguing that Smashing Pumpkins’ 2007 comeback Zeitgeist emphasized Billy Corgan’s heavy side at the expense of his internal goth geek, a de facto apology decade of arty detours culminating in his synth-laden solo debut Future Embrace. Thing is, most fans that held true during this time in the Zwan wilderness liked those indulgences (or at least came to expect them), so having the Pumpkins reduced to punishingly long guitar solos was disarming. In an act of over-corrective steering reminiscent of the left turn toward the thick, roiling Zeitgeist, Corgan responded to the criticisms of Zeitgeist by launching the absurdly ambitious Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project -- a conceptual 44-song suite to be doled out two songs at a time over the course of several years, initially available as free downloads, then gathered together as four-song EPs every few months. Based on the first of these, it’s apparent that Corgan has brought back the mysticism without sacrificing the six-string: the hardest moment, “Astral Planes” may carry some of his signature fuzztones, but it’s not a hard wall of distortion, it fits nicely with the slow, hazy crawl of “A Song for a Son,” the almost soft-rock-funk groove of “Widow Wake My Mind,” and the sprightly psychedelic pulse of “A Stitch in Time,” which does reflect Corgan’s unexpected dalliance with veterans from the Electric Prunes and Strawberry Alarm Clock. None of these songs have the concise punch of a single, but that’s surely intentional: they’re not designed as hooky statements of intent, they’re dreamy teasers for what promises to be Corgan’s most varied set of music since the days of Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, whose title is quite deliberately echoed in the very name of Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1