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The Blank Tapes - Geodesic Dome Piece (2015) review

The Blank Tapes "Geodesic Dome Piece" (Royal Oakie Records, 2015)

Anyone wanna go back in time?  Back in time to the future that is…  Yeah, well The Blank Tapes can make that happen for ya.  Geodesic Dome Piece is the latest offering in an incredible back catalog of releases that span more than a decade at this point.  Beginning with the aptly titled “Way Too Stoned” Geodesic Dome Piece is perhaps The Blank Tapes greatest offering yet, sprawling psychedelic wizardry with airtight construction and arrangement immediately setting a benchmark for everything else dropping in 2015.  “Oh My My” quickly follows on its’ heels as things start to get a little stranger, more open ended and unhinged…  The contorted strings that drip and strain behind falsetto backups on the chorus are incorrigibly catchy, lodging “Oh My My” in your brain like the most wonderful tumor in history!  The funky repetitive bassline of “Buff” reminds me of prime era Beck, tightly wound sound unreeling like thread from a spool into wave after wave of brain decimating noise!  The completely ridiculous solo that ends “Buff” and fades into “Magic Leaves” is one of the best moments on Geodesic Dome Piece, lightning captured in a bottle.  “Magic Leaves” is like walking into a jungle of alien sounds and noises, utterly disorienting and yet somehow exotically intoxicating and extremely interesting.  Pieced together from a dense patchwork of layered sounds and instrumentation, the vocals hold “Magic Leaves” together and lay a yellow brick road to the Wizard’s City leading the listener to the completely bizarro “For Breakfast”.  The farther you travel into the universe that is Geodesic Dome Piece the stranger and more disorienting things begin to get, and by the time that “For Breakfast” is done it’s pretty clear that we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!  “So High” follows on the footsteps of “For Breakfast” growing from the gnarled wall of distortion that it’s predecessor left behind, and despite it’s name “So High” seems to be a lot more grounded and sane than “For Breakfast”, ha-ha!  It’s a definite trip back into the 60’s peace and love mindset, but with the jaded outlook of a generation who’s seen the inevitable results of free-love and mind-expansion through intoxication.  It’s an interesting paradox, and one that seems to pop up from time to time on Geodesic Dome Piece.  It’s difficult to tell just how tongue-in-cheek The Blank Tapes are being and how much of a social statement they’re actually attempting to make, not that it really matters anyways.  I don’t know what it is about “Oh My Muzak” but it feels like it should be the theme song to some imaginary kids’ show where the host is completely dosed out on lysergics and stuffing handfuls of hallucinogenic mushrooms down his throat, croaking and crooning about random insanity to a room full of horrified children running in the opposite direction.  “Slippin’ Slide” moves back into more recognizable psychedelic territory, bringing along some much needed energy to pick the listener back up and lock them in a groove for the rest of the album.  I could do without the horns on the song, but admittedly I’m a bit close-minded about horns in just about anything other than jazz music so you can kind of take that with a grain of salt.  “420” has a perfectly lazy feeling to it, slinking along and puling at the strings attached to the top of your head until you’re bopping along whether you want to or not; if you’ve ever just gotten waaaayyyy to high and started to get those weird involuntary muscle spasms while you were melting into the couch and the floor was floating of you, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about here!  Midway through the song you can hear waves literally crashing against a rock wall as the guitar and keys fight it out, escalating to a frenzied peek before falling into a sick groove and delivering one of the tastiest solos on Geodesic Dome Piece amidst one of the most laid back and dreamy tracks on Geodesic Dome Piece.  “I’m a gonna wanna, I’m a gonna wanna, I’m a gonna wanna” put this song on so many times it’s gonna drive me nuts man!  There’s a timeless sense of carefree joy about “420” that can’t be imitated, it has to be from the head and the heart and it can not be missed when you hear the track.  I don’t even know where to start with “Brown Chicken Brown Cow”.  It sounds like it should be a completely nonsensical song, and at times the lyrics almost seem to stray into that territory of word association or something as opposed to literal meanings, but it never fully strays off the path into haywire territory and manages to stay on track and as serious as can be expected.  Looking at the track listing I had assumed “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” would be kind of a funny song or that the title would have nothing to do with the track, The Blank Tapes avoid boundaries and expectations as always however, delivering something completely and wholly their own.  “Do You Wanna Get High”, on the other hand, is about exactly what it sounds like it would be.  Again though, it’s interesting to hear someone who’s coming at this kind of music with not only the rose colored glasses that we all wear when looking back at times gone by, but with all the unfocused and confused anger of generations since as well.  Seemingly carefree, there’s a dark almost lamenting side to the song to my ear, which would make sense as it leads into the mellow laid-back territory of the album closer “To Your Dome Piece”.  Chanting choirs of backup vocals join in the repeated vocal mantra that I would put money fueled the writing and recording of Geodesic Dome Piece simply singing, “to your dome piece” over and over again.  It’s an excellent way to end the album, and a perfect way of explaining how one should actually listen to Geodesic Dome Piece.  It’s probably best enjoyed either completely intoxicated or as part of a greater quest for self-enlightenment and mind-expansion through music, and I don’t say that in any condescending or snobbish way.  I know it seems like that might be overstating, or understating how good of an album Geodesic Dome Piece actually is, but I don’t know how else to take it, other than as a completely profound and personal statement from a band who’s have been honing their craft for as long as The Blank Tapes have.  I highly recommend that any head or fan of experimental psych pick up a copy of this album as essential listening.  Geodesic Dome Piece is gonna earn a permanent spot on your favorites list and be one of those albums you put on when you have company over for years to come so you can expose new people to it and preach the gospel of The Blank Tapes to virgin ears guaranteed!

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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