A decorated veteran, a stuntman, a monk, a restaurant owner, a spiritual leader, and a frontman. Father Yod was all these things and more, becoming a LA cult figure until his death in 1975. Drag City releases some of Father Yod & the Source Family's most sought-after material.
The Thought Adjusters is an appropriately sprawling and understandably messy release. It's the work of what was essentially a Los Angeles religious commune-turned-psychedelic noise jam band. There's no denying that Father Yod's magnetism is present throughout the records near-78 minute run time. He's the perfect presentation of what's expected out of a cult leader and the role seems so natural for Father Yod (formerly James Edward Baker) it was as if it was a role he was born to play. The talent of The Source Family (as his followers were known as) is undeniable. Throughout The Thought Adjusters there's scorching lead guitar work reminiscent of Mike Bloomfield at his most incendiary, propulsive drumming, and Father Yod's unmistakable manic preacher warbling.
Much off The Thought Adjusters revels in the chaos that it creates with Father Yod going increasingly insane with his vocal melodies and lyrical content. It's exactly what you'd expect from a drugged-out hippie cult leader. Several times throughout the record it's as if both Father Yod and his band either got completely taken over by the song or just spaced out entirely and kept the tape rolling. That element especially gives The Thought Adjusters a weird, wild-eyed jam band edge. There's moments where the song drops out entirely only to be resurrected moments later and continued on, providing a very strange and jarring experience.
Even more illuminating are the excerpts of various spoken sermons from Father Yod. One of the most fascinating of these is "The Goddess Earth (All My Sons Are Jesus)". These speeches have reportedly been unheard previously by the general public and should serve as an eye-opener to the secret inner workings and ideals of the notoriously reclusive Source Family. "The Goddess Earth (All My Sons Are Jesus)" is probably not only The Thought Adjusters' most representative track but also the track most representative of the band itself. Veering from that opening four-minute speech to the frantic off-key warbling that dominates the second half over some seriously impressive psychedelic noise arrangements. It aptly demonstrates that while the band may have been crazy, they sure could play the hell out of their instruments. When Father Yod's oft-grating vocals drop out of the mix, the record becomes exhilarating due to the players' prowess. It's an incredible thing to listen to.
"Sleepy Heads" is The Thought Adjusters' longest track, clocking in at over 20 minutes. This is the song that marks how susceptible the band was to complete chaos. Strangely, it lends a greater immediacy to the rantings of Father Yod and actually ends up feeling more complete in this mode. During "Sleepy Heads" flute solos cut through at various points, every guitarist gets certain points to lose their mind, and the drummer cuts unbelievably loose while Father Yod lets everything collapse around him. Like the best noise music, it's terrifying while maintaining a sense of beauty. Perhaps most impressively, it stays interesting by hopping from one melody and section to another. It's a tireless marathon where its abundantly clear that the band genuinely believes in what they're doing, presenting it as essential listening until it dies out- and that marks the end of the first of two LPs.
The second LP opens with "Osiris/Isis", which begins as a creepy lilting track that's relatively subdued and eventually increases its momentum by continuously layering itself. It's a fascinating listen that stands out as one of The Thought Adjusters' strongest tracks. The remaining two tracks, "Spin Around Part 1" and its companion, "Spin Around Part Two", end The Thought Adjusters in gloriously messy fashion, flickering between adrenaline-fueled noise jams and lingering restraint that enters freak-folk territory, a genre in which Father Yod & the Source Family are often cited as an influence. They're both, like the whole record, an unquestionably fascinating listen that provide as many grating moments as thrilling ones. While The Thought Adjusters certainly won't strike a chord with everyone, if you're curious about it, it'll be well worth the listen.