The Orange Alabaster Mushroom – Space and Time: A Compendium Of – Review

The Orange Alabaster Mushroom

Space and Time: A Compendium Of (A Hidden Agenda)
by Brian Varney

For those of you obsessed with Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and the Nuggets boxes on Rhino, boy have I got something for you. The guy in The Orange Alabaster Mushroom is in the same boat as you and, unlike your geeky ass, he’s gone and done something about it. Pick up this CD (which collects tracks from 7″s and compilations you’ve never heard of) and you get everything you like about that stuff but with, like, songs you haven’t already heard a million times.

TOAM is the brainchild of a crazy Canuck called Greg Watson (he writes, produces, and plays everything himself), who apparently locks himself in his room for weeks at a time with only his Syd Barrett albums (inc. Piper at the Gates of Dawn) and his vintage equipment and doesn’t come out ’til he’s completed songs with titles like “Aim the Vimana Toward the Dorian Sector” and “Sydney’s Electric Headcheese Sundial.” It all sounds kinda silly, and it is, but I can’t really argue with the results.

For one thing, the deployment of the vintage equipment (sitars, analogue synthesizers, Vox 12-string guitars, among other things) has tangible results other than giving the geeks something to drool over (“Omigosh, I can’t believe he’s got a Univox Maxi-Korg!”). Not only does Watson have the right equipment, he’s obviously spent some time really listening to the way those ’60s records are produced, and he’s put that knowledge to good use here. Now, I’m no expert on this sort of thing (in fact, I generally tend to avoid bands of this sort), but if I didn’t know better I’d swear these were ’60s recordings.

Of course, none of what I’ve said would matter if the tunes weren’t here, and lucky for you and me, they’re here in spades. Underneath the “everything plus the kitchen sink and the plumbing” approach to arrangements are some honest-to-Joe great pop songs, especially lead-off track “Your Face Is in My Mind,” which has been stuck in my head for weeks now.

I suppose the best thing to compare this to is Dukes of Stratosphere, but this has better songs, less of an ironic, tongue-in-cheek twist, and, most importantly of all, it doesn’t have that annoying, snake-charmer sounding thing going in the background the whole time. Window-blast this and watch the girls scatter.
(303 West Griggs St. Urbana, IL 61801)