The name The Orange Alabaster Mushroom should tell you everything you need to know about this band. Under the delightful delusion that the ’60s are still alive and strong, The Orange Alabaster Mushroom has created hallucinogenic-inspired rock. While Space & Time suffers from a fuzzy monotony, there is no denying the free spirit of this band.
The Orange Alabaster Mushroom tends to suffer from a sense of artifice. Although the band’s appreciation for the history of pop music can be admired, for it to purposely take on outdate styles gives Space & Time an insincerity which hampers the album. The retro feel makes it hard to find a true connection with the emotions behind the music since there is so much of it that comes across as being fabricated. Rather than making music that feels genuine, The Orange Alabaster Mushroom is making music that feels staged. The songs on Space & Time seem to be more for show than for art, and that’s the largest disappointment of this album.
But The Orange Alabaster Mushroom still remains surprisingly buoyant and fun for all its faults. It has understand of the music it is making, and despite the over-embellished style of songs like “Rainbow Man” and “Valerie Vanillaroma”, the band light mood keeps these songs from slipping into self-importance. The Orange Alabaster Mushroom seems to be doing this music to entertain itself, and if other people listen, then all the better.
Taking on the heightened senses of the psychedelic experience, the band’s lyrics are filled with bright colors and strange sights. In “Another Place” the band describes such scenes like “rejected movies of my childhood floating by” and then in the title track “Space & Time”, such images as “eyes were a lavender-green” are evoked. Most of the lyrics can’t be distinguished, however, with The Orange Alabaster Mushroom’s leader Gregory Waston’s whiny voice soaring in and out of the music.
Choosing to record this material in analogue, The Orange Alabaster Mushroom has actually done itself a disservice. While the low-fi sound is part of the charm of Space & Time, it comes across as being a gimmick, and just something to hide behind, and the poor quality of their recording equipment works against them, adding too much noise and making the album painful to listen to for prolonged periods. For what it are, The Orange Alabaster Mushroom has talent, but this bit of “authenticity” tends to do the band a disservice, causing the truth nature of its music to be drowned out.
As a compilation of various tracks from over the years, Space & Time has no unifying thread, except for the consistency of sound. While there is much here to be enjoyed, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to The Orange Alabaster Mushroom, and at 15 songs and almost an hour long, the album begins to drag towards the end. There’s not enough variety here, and while the band plays fun, psychedelic-inspired music, it is the only thing it does well. Once you’ve heard the first half of this album, you’ve pretty much heard the last half, too.
The Orange Alabaster Mushroom definitely lets listeners know what to expect by its name and cover art, and while it delivers on the retro vibe, that it all it does. While it may be posing as a ’60s psychedelic band, it keeps a self-awareness that keeps the band from ever trying to be too self-important. Although Space & Time lacks in structure and refinement, it is entertaining, at least for a while. The Orange Alabaster Mushroom, from the beginning, accomplishes what it wanted to do, and for all the flaws that are here.