Are you on the bus or off the bus?
Trippy. Lysergic. Acid-washed. These are the kinds of words that naturally come to mind when you listen to Dandelion Gum, the exuberantly non-linear fourth full-length from Black Moth Super Rainbow. From the plasticky surges of 1970s synth to the mood ring-ish flourishes of flower child flute, from the dream-state vocodered words to the glitch-stepped drum rhythms, every sensation this album evokes seems a bit too large for the real world. Nothing to do but haul out the drug metaphors, am I right?
And yet there’s something hyper-natural (which is not the same as super-natural) about this lovely, soap-bubble delicate piece of work, something deeply tied to the world of sunshine, wildflowers, new grass and running water. There may be a krautrocking, electronically enhanced beat behind “They Live in the Meadow”, and a robotic distance to the vocals, but the words, the melodies, the rich surge of synthesizer notes are as warm and friendly as the sunny day the song’s about. These are electronically derived songs you want to take outside with you when you sit on your stoop watching the birds in the trees. The combination of mysticism, technology and nature is as 1970s as a Peter Max litho…and just as multicolored and inviting.
No one knows much about Black Moth Super Rainbow. There are five of them. They started out somewhere in the wilds of Western Pennsylvania. They hide their true identities behind masks and nicknames. They have three other full-lengths to their credit as well as last year’s spectacularly sprawling split with The Octopus Project. And yet, Dandelion Gum, to large extent, came out of nowhere, its groovy, buoyant, peace-sign vibe resembling nothing else on the current landscape. You’d expect this kind of record to molder somewhere in the back of the vinyl section, decorated in day-glo colors and copyrighted about 1971. And yet, it’s right here, right now. Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.
Consider the fuzz-ridden “Neon Syrup for the Cemetary Sisters”, which builds clouds of translucent feedback into towering, evanescent structures, hippie flute weaving in and out like rays of sun. Or the almost-funk keyboard cadence of “Lost, Picking Flowers in the Wood”, circling on its tight leash, while digitalized vocals float eerily over. Every one of these songs feels like a mandala, something that, if you stared at long enough, you’d get an inkling of the meaning of the universe.
Or maybe that’s the drugs talking. Because Dandelion Gum is one of those records that makes you feel like you’re high, even when you’re not, like you’re on the verge of shambolic visions, even if you’re taking out the trash, like there’s an ineffable order to the universe, even when all signs point to chaos. Look there’s a girl with a basket of flowers coming toward you and she’s smiling. No she’s flying. No she’s turned into a three-headed snake. Beautiful. What a trip. Pass the Dandelion Gum.
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// Notes from the Road
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