MUSHROOM: GLAZED POPEMS (Black Beauty '04)

San Francisco bay area locals Mushroom, have recently released a two-disc set on Black Beauty Records called Glazed Popems. Disc 1 contains psych-acid, folk-prog music recorded in London, and Disc 2 is a funk-jazz hybrid that was recorded in their hometown of Oakland, CA. The beautiful packaging, complete with trippy 60's retro album art and naked women lounging about, is appealing to the eye and makes one wonder what kind of band Mushroom may be.

The liner notes list the many players as: drummer and producer Pat Thomas, percussionist Dave Mihaly, Erik Pearson on guitar, sax, and flute, Ned Doherty on bass, Matt Cunitz on organ, harpsichord and 1960's Mellotron, Tim Plowman on guitar, Brian Felix (OM Trio) on keyboards, trombonist Michael Rinta, Ralph Carney on reeds, and the organ and improv vocal stylings of Allison Levy.

The music of Mushroom could best be described as "instrumental psychedelic jazz rock" owing much on the first disc to the Krautrock genre or early 1970s English art rock like King Crimson while the second disc is more funky jazz ala electric Miles Davis. The majority of the tracks are instrumentals with lots of synths and funky keys mixing with hypnotic drums, wailing reeds and thrashing guitar on top.

Where some of the selections seem more composed there are a series of long jammy improvs with no real song structure, which makes for great background music. I tend to prefer the slightly more structured funk based music on Disc 2 over the softer folkier London Disc 1. My biggest gripe is that both discs are full of good musical ideas which could have been developed into more solid song offerings. Repetitive riffs sometimes lead to boredom while one waits for the music to go somewhere. While some folks may have trouble latching onto this release, fans of free form ambient psychedelic improv will truly enjoy Glazed Popems.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 12/17/04]

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