Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gone Too Far, Too Far Gone

Artist: Bright
Albums: Bright, Blue Christian/Bliss Out v.12
Source: Bought used (s/t); bought new (Blue C.)

One of the ways The Man tries to scare kiddies away from even low-level drug use is the idea of the Gateway Drug. The idea being that even if it seems like smoking some pot every now and then is fairly harmless (and the science says it is pretty harmless, kids!), it's actually entirely sinister because that one joint is not an end unto itself. No, it's going to make you want to try something a little stronger, which will lead to something a little badder, and before long you'll be knocking over Quik-E-Marts to feed your hard-dope habit.

So stay away from the soft stuff, because you don't know where it will lead.

My general opinion is that this is alarmist horseshit...a position that my own experiences with record buying thoroughly refutes. See, once I hear something I like, well...I want more. But not just the same stuff, man - I want something that hits a little harder, is a little further out there. And I'll keep dancing from one Gateway CD to the next until, finally, I'm not even sure what I'm doing anymore.

Bright holds two slots in The Beast for no other reason than it's a further-out hit of some wicked stuff that had gotten my brain all abuzz. In the mid-90s, Philadelphia earned the nickname Psychedelphia, and with good reason: there was some intense modern psychedelic music wafting out the the City of Brotha-ly Love. From Asteroid #4 and Bardo Pond to Lenola and Transient Waves, there was head-spinning noise leaking out of every dark corner of the city.

It was great. I was hooked. Gimme more!

Soon, my visits to the Church of Latter-Day Psychedelia became more wanton, less discriminate. If something was supposed to pack a strong hit of droning guitars and drifting percussion, I was in. All I needed was little prodding.

So I read a review of a Bright album that described the group as "Ash Ra Temple meets Sun Ra." Now, normally, I would have noticed that this description hinged on the writer's ability to find two improv-heavy groups with "Ra" in their names. Red flag! But instead, all my Music Junkie ears heard was that this was some heavy shit.

And I guess it is, but there's nothing really to distinguish it from any other moderately heavy guitar-based psych of the era. Bright sounds like two guys with a bag of weed and a bunch of pedals who rolled tape. Which is not to dismiss it entirely - there is some reliably tasty crunch that Bright cranks out from time to time - but it doesn't rise to the level of Windy and Carl or the Photon Band, groups who took the psychedelic mantle and made something new(ish) and often remarkable out of it. Instead, Bright just kind of gives you a low-intensity buzz...better than having none at all, sure, but less nifty than the truly primo doses available from all the other six-stringed dealers.

SISOSIG? Bright's self-titled debut bears the hallmarks of musicians who are full of enthusiasm and talent, but aren't entirely sure what to do with it. I play this record from time to time, but immediately afterwards I'm at a loss to recall what any specific part of it sounded like. Blue Christian, cut just a year later, fares a bit better creatively, and spices the long instrumental jams with some occasional sax (and other instruments that are neither guitars nor drums). Seeing as Blue C. is also part of my Darla Bliss Out subscription series, I think it'll do as my occasional hit of Bright's mid-level pleasures...and the other one can be chalked up to a purchase made by a strung-out noise junkie.


  • Someone handed me Cave In's Jupiter CD to listen to about two years ago. He was sure that I'd hear it. I gave it a couple of tries (background music, full attention and something in between) and I didn't quite get what N was trying to tell me. Maybe I shoulda jumped through a couple of "gateway CDs" first. I was pretty immune to Psychedelia...

    By Blogger Heather, at 2:33 PM  

  • The first hit is, indeed, not always free. I must have been to a half-dozen Bardo Pond shows before I actually heard what they were playing.

    By Blogger bsglaser, at 2:38 PM  

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