November 7, 2010

TOPAZ RAGS - "Crown Center/You Go On" 7inch (NotNotFun)

  The amazing Not Not Fun label has been producing some of the most unique and inventive underground psychedelic gems for just shy of ten years now.Each of their intensely unique releases holds a certain free-thinking charm, free of guidelines, both aesthetically and musically.Personally, I get just as much satisfaction out of glaring at their carefully constructed packaging and elaborate inserts, as I do listening to the contents of the medium they house.The good people that run this fine institution are, and always will be doing things on their own terms as a collective, and I admire them dearly for it.8
  A personal favorite, and surely the most overlooked and mysterious member of their family tree, is Topaz Rags.Sharing members of psych-juggernauts such as Pocahaunted, Robedoor, L.A. Vampires, and Vibes, this lurker ghost-jazz trio has conjured up a total blazer of a debut cassette, a mind-altering full length lp, and a handful of great singles and comp. tracks.They return with yet another slab of audible ESP, in the form of a seven inch entitled "Crown Center".Total mind control.Just as haunting and patient as their "Capricorn Born Again" LP, if not more.This isn't just an excuse to dish out leftover tracks either.The tone and vibe that slowly emanates from this record is rather uncharted territory for them, and a much blacker, heavier molasses drips from the speakers this time around.
  Crown Center is a slow moving animal, a vibrating, wobbly dirge that sneaks up into your ear and gently nudges massages brain, before a chorus of chanting witches begin their ceremonial croons.Their bubbling cauldron is much bigger than before, leaving room for more of their random ingredients.A foamy goth-tinged substance floats at the surface, as a beatnik skeleton drums along patiently.All of these elements twist and twirl around each other, and rarely drift out of sync with one another.Things begin to double, and even triple in numbers, opening up secret passages to new melodies.The rattling bass run begins to teeter and give out, and finally the track collapses into a low hum.
  The flip side, an equally foreboding brood, opens with a wah-wah-drenched bass gurgle.A sharp piano stab pierces your gut, and introduces some seriously layered chanting that is more than seance-like.This track too finds the depths of their decaying rhythm section, relying on minimalist drone-lounge and blown out howls.There's an organic, almost supernatural feel to their black magic, and at times I am so blown away at how perfect their chemistry can be.They cast their spells with such ease and confidence, that it's almost as if this group were something predetermined by a higher power, or a random meeting of three hooded nomads looking for a dark, damp cave to master their craft.Whatever brought them to our world, is worthy of my blind faith for sure.Stunning.

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