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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 41 - 02/19/00

Pseudo Buddha
Uncle Buzz Records

Was warned early on that the cover was a photoshop butchery of a most exquisite piece by San Antonio renaissance man (painter, player, composer, etc.) James Cobb, who was last heard squealing squalor all over the recent Boxcar disc. He's on these sessions as well, and while his art is obviously more grasping when it jumps from wall to eye unimpeded by plastic case and shrink-wrap, the cover is not all that hacked (as opposed to, say, the first Trail of Dead record cover). At worst, the end result of these glossed hand/chicken claw and digitized idol images brings to mind some recent gamelan packaging guffaws I've encountered, all playing up the ancient as ethno-trance for the kiddos. But the music is what we're all here for, and for such a stagnant scene in terms of ambition and experimentation, Pseudo Buddha has always stood out, performing long swirling sets of incense-fueled dreams, set against films or what-have-you in small bars and art-spaces around town. They forego such rock givens as opening bands, standing poses, drum kits, etc. for more relaxed and tonally-focused movements, which would not be surprising were it not for the deep rock roots that certain members bring to the group.

The "Buddha" of the group is Bobdog Catlin, who hails from such old groups as S.A. Slayer and The Evil Mothers, and he has obviously altered the genetics of his approach to string strangling, playing subdued, blues-grounded slide as well as more buzzing and tingling sitar, at times turning the amplified guitar into a melted clump of pulsing nerve endings, far from normal visual/aural groundings. Other members involved once had their roots in such rock groups as Worm, Crevice, and Pink Filth, yet they now dangle often high in this sky, their tendrils mutating from weakened gravity.

The real stand-out on all tracks, and what takes the group to another level melodically, is Stephanie Key, playing all wind instruments. On Solo, her soaring, effected clarinet is as simple and exquisite as a butterfly amongst the smoke of war and kif. The drones of didjeridoo, e-bow, breath, and electronics lounge and sprawl over most of the tracks, but its her playing and phased phrasing that really draws it all together, organizing the sounds into storms, moving the clouds over eyes and ears.

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