Last Days of May

Radiant Black Mind

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Dream Syndicate guitarist Karl Precoda leads the Virginia-based Last Days on their second CD, which explores free rock territory. Precoda's clattery, distended, psycho-delic guitar feeds back to itself in question and answer mode, yet there's a cleanliness to his dense sound which renders it fairly organized and decipherable. Rhythm mates Thomas Howard and James Ralston keep the beat focused, but expand upon Precoda's take-no-prisoners concept, heading for terrain similar to Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix, or Sun Ra. A slow, bluesy beat is the foundation for "The Mezz," the most straightforward effort of the five cuts. A beat of 3/4 to 4/4 informs the rockish, free, and jamming "Apollo Cabinfire," a hard-driving improvisation where Precoda plays a discernable solo. The most involved and intricate piece of the date is "ECG 102A." Whale drones contrast with industrial clanking; free raking and scraping, ghostly heart throbs, afterburner jet pops, and acid-dropped dramatics are all present in a relatively free context. "Up From the Equator" sports quite scattered improvisation, solid soulful bass funk, wah wah guitar, and additional Afro-Cuban conga from fourth wheel Leonard Wishart. "The West" has an easier funk base, but is sonically rich; the clarity of Precoda's ideals are obvious to anyone who might be interested in his different, mind-swelling approach. This release is for those who realize that this type of music, which was born in the '60s, is very much alive today. It should satisfy not only the older fans of the genre, but younger listeners who remember Precoda's past glories.

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