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Just in time for the sweltering heat and humidity swarming across the country this summer, Calliope have given us a dose of indie pop as seen through the rosy, round sunglasses of Summer of Love psychedelia. It’s evident right off the bat through the use of George Harrison’s and Brian Jones’ favorite tool of Eastern exotica—the sitar—on “Did You Get What You Came For?”


The boys fire on all cylinders, literally, on “Oh My God,” whose melange of jazzy, bossa-nova rhythms fused with synthesizer gushes emit more energy than the departure of Apollo 13. Keeping up with the astronomical analogies, Calliope earn their space- rock billing on the thick and swirly “Star,” a dangerously close fly-by to the early efforts of the Verve, Spacemen 3, and latter-day Swervedriver.


“Umbra,” on the other hand, really had me fooled. I thought I was in for a visit to the Dark Side of the Moon until some totally unexpected hip-hop beats suddenly joined the fray. (Now that’s cool.) “She’s Got the Way” starts off similarly before jumping into the vortex of screaming guitars and Atari-edged synth blasts, all suddenly evaporating to a lone acoustic guitar. It’s followed by a moment of precious silence that allows you just enough time to catch your breath before the next round.


Thankfully, the band is fully capable of mixing things up a bit. Space-rock virtually always runs the risk of being brutally boring—and quite often is. (In)Organics is living proof that when some actual creative thought is introduced into the mix of shifting moods and dynamics, it can really rock. Swervedriver’s 99th Dream and Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space are among this genre’s most heralded albums. Calliope is in the ball park. You are sure to appreciate the diverse instrumentation—synths, sitars, trumpets, jazz rhythm guitar. Ultimately what makes their work interesting is that they jam more like a jazz band with distinct psych and space rock leanings.

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By Doug Wallen
12 Aug 2002
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