Various Artists - Terrastock Six (Secret Eye CD)
The sixth Terrastock festival took place in Providence, Rhode Island this past April. Unfortunately it happens to fall in between the No Fun Fest and the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, which would put a triple-whammy of drainage on my finances. Considering that Rhode Island is quite a ways further from me than New York or Victoriaville, I had to pass. Which was a huge drag because the festival line up was stellar. Nevermind the other bands slated to play Terrastock; just looking at the artists appearing on this disc is enough to make my mouth water. The Magic Carpanthians Project, Kemialliset Ystävät, Major Stars, Fursaxa, PG Six, Black Forest/Black Sea & Larkin Grimm, Avarus, the Spacious Mind, Paik, Kinski and Bardo Pond. Are you serious? Talk about a who's who of modern-day psychedelia, which is the other nice thing about this compilation of exclusive tracks - not only is it a great companion piece to the festival (or a consolation prize if you couldn't attend) but it reads like a primer for what's going on in psych these days. If you find last year's "Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box" and "Gold Leaf Branches" overwhelming, there's no better place to start than here. Early 90's scene luminaries Bardo Pond and Major Stars put in strong appearances with the Pond laying down a 12-minute sludgy apocalypso which is only slightly marred by Isobel Sollenberger's occasionally-grating vocals. The burdgeoning Finnish psych scene is given ample room here courtesy tunes by Kemialliset Ystävät and Avarus (probably the best cut here, a thick and noisy number that sounds like an AM radio being attacked by a guitar). Black Forest/Black Sea and Pail contribute two songs that bring more to mind post-rock and shoegaze than Amon Duul, with the former being almost disturbingly reminiscent of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai mash-up (probably not something the band members would care to hear). Fursaxa is enchanting as always with a wonderfully dew-drenched gypsy tale, PG Six's brief instrumental acoustic guitar and piano duet is almost too quietly ecstatic for its own good, while the opening number from the Magic Radio Carpathians Project continuously baffles me, stretching out in every possible direction over the course of 11 minutes yet never seeming to reach a final destination. Meanwhile Sweden's Spacious Mind layer whispered vocals and haunting guitar melodies over backmasked drums and Kinski's play an ambitionless drone that serves as little more than a distraction. So overall aside from a couple of missteps (which is bound to occur on an album that's 66 minutes long and as diverse as this one is), "Terrastock Six" the album is a real winner, and hopefully you're not too late to snatch one up seeing as how it's been a long time since the last sleeping bag was packed up from that weekend in Providence and these were only limited to 500 copies.