Comets on Fire

Field Recordings from the Sun

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Santa Cruz semi-supergroup Comets on Fire, featuring folks from various other bands -- like the Lowdown's Noel Harmonson on "echoplex and oscillations" and Ethan Miller on guitar and vocals -- created an agreeably tripped-out second record with Field Recordings From the Sun. Though the first, hyper-limited-edition release was MC5 meets Hawkwind in the farthest reaches of the galaxy straight-up, Field Recordings tempers that somewhat with a little more restraint here and there, making for some bemusing contrasts. Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance is one of the many guests, and hearing his involving percussion work on the opening "Beneath the Ice Age" may lead an unwary listener to think this will be a fairly low-key listen. That is, until the whole band completely fires up and Miller starts singing in a massively echoed voice over equally massive guitar riffs about god knows what. Given the equally jaw-dropping roars of "Return to Heaven" and "ESP," the smack-in-the-middle mostly acoustic ramble of "The Unicorn" very much stands out, though to be sure feedback insanity begins halfway through and keeps increasing as the song continues. The general air of murk and mayhem could almost lead to assuming the album was recorded one room over, but the bandmembers clearly know what they want to achieve. Miller's attempts to be both Rob Tyner and Robert Calvert (not to mention Wayne Kramer and Dave Brock) work not as a mere revival but its own form of insanity. The Ben Flashman/Utrillo Belcher rhythm section creates more than their fair share of heavy-duty rumbling mayhem and shot-to-hell R&B breaks, while Harmonson makes as many swoops and swirls as possible in the mix. "The Black Poodle" wraps everything up with a ten-minute space rock jam and then some, with Harmonson going crazy over the rhythm insanities conjured up.

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