As rumor would have it, shortly before Portland, Oregon space trippers Eternal Tapestry retreated to a cabin in the wilderness to work on the music that would become their sprawling double album Wild Strawberries, drummer Jed Bindeman came across a stockpile of about 700 cassette bootlegs of fan-recorded Phish concerts. The band recorded over these tapes to put down the lengthy, oozing jams and wandering instrumental zone-outs of the album. While listening closely doesn't reveal any bleed through from these forgotten moments of jam band bliss, there's a grainy, relaxed feeling that runs throughout the massive album, one where just eight tracks stretch out infinitely in a web of sounds somewhere between the woodsy womb of the remote cabin and the cold, unknown reaches of space. Guitarist Nick Bindeman locks in with his brother's sturdy Krautrock rhythms on the title track, exchanging his free-flowing leads with more static synth drones. He stays in the spotlight for the more laid-back groove of "Enchanter's Nightshade," throwing wah-drenched pontification over the stony repetition of bass and drum patterns. These two tunes both stretch past the 15-minute mark, and sit beside experiments like the two-minute synth waves of "Woodland Anemone" and the fragments of a song cycle appearing in different installments throughout the album on tracks "Maidenhair Spleenwort" and "Mountain Primrose." Clearly culled from lengthy improvisations, the editing and presentation on Wild Strawberries still feel like a mindful masterstroke for Eternal Tapestry. Unlike the long-winded jams on the Phish bootlegs they recycled to track these sessions, every element feels controlled and purposeful, from the glistening drones to the growling guitar leads to all types of mushroom-trip synth meditations and fried D.I.Y. Krautrock re-envisionments. The album wraps up with "White Adder's Tongue," a wild collage of delay and shifting rhythmic signatures that ping-pong across the stereo field and sound unlike anything the group has laid down before. Never short on material for various low-profile releases, the jams on Wild Strawberries are more considered and inspired than any of Eternal Tapestry's previous work, and present the most cohesive picture of their long, strange progression.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas