Look closely at the cover of Cosmo Topper's Pure Fast Vibration CD -- a Hi-8 video camera shot of clouds streaking across the sky near Roswell, NM -- and you'll notice there aren't any intergalactic aliens peering from octagonal windows of a CGI'd UFO. That's because the Cosmo Topper experience is rooted in tangible reality, not in the enigmatic and mysterious. According to L.A. music scene veteran Morley Bartnoff (former keyboardist in Burning Sensations and a member of L.A.'s Negro Problem), "a 'pure fast vibration' is when your intentions manifest right in front of your eyes instantaneously." In other words -- taking a quote from "Better Be Real" -- "everything fake will one day fall apart," so why not be real? The album was produced by Joel Bell in a mere six weeks, with layer upon layer of fervent, instinctive pop hooks constructed around artful and inventive arrangements added during each session by Bartnoff and the other group members: bassist Bryan Mastalski(ex-Box the Walls), drummer Robbie Rist (Wonderboy/the Andersons/Receiver and formerly "Cousin Oliver" as a child actor on TV's Brady Bunch), Probyn Gregory (Brian Wilson/Wondermints) on guitar, horns, and vocals, and drummer Pete Pagonis. Bartnoff's songs celebrate sharing the human experience with a cosmic Walt Whitman-esque viewpoint deeply embedded in emotive elements. "The Law of Attraction," which previously appeared on the second International Pop Overthrow compilation, is a good example of Bartnoff's ability to have numerous melodies and varied instrumentation all swarming around in the mix. The album ends with "Revolution No. 9 and 1/2 Weeks," which blends bits of each previous song in a lengthy 12-minute pop art collage. Bartnoff has chosen an appropriate moniker for this debut, taking the name from a 1937 film and '50s TV series about a curmudgeonly, henpecked banker who is visited by ghosts, once married and very much alive, who try to get him to enjoy his own life before it ends. This philosophy -- "live while you can" -- lies at the core of Pure Fast Vibration, which was released on Bartnoff's own Morley Road label in 2001.
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AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas