Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
Man, the surf came crawling in and swept all of the hobos, junkies, and heads into a brick-walled Venice Beach basement infused with the scent of a dying star. These California weirdos, led by surf-rocker Phil Pearlman, is exactly what Andy Warhol could've used for his west coast happenings. Like Pearlman's Electronic Hole, the vibes of the Velvet Underground are clearly chiming through, but with the sensibility of wild hair flowin', bongo beatin' nighttime beach bonfire in place of Lou Reed's Chelsea gutter. With wall-to-wall psychedelic reverb, primordial flute, and the occasional vocals presenting the unholy demon child of Lou Reed and Jim Morrison, this improvised strangeness delivers the psychedelic music promised on the back cover.
Back in my review of the Electronic Hole, I noted that the band oddly didn't function well on the more conventional tunes, while they shine on the jams. Fortunately, that's all we're getting here, with each side making a blurry, rambling artistic statement. At least when you consider that the tunes are named "This is an Artistic Statement Parts I and II." Y'know, I'm not a fan of jam bands in rock. The hallowed Grateful Dead tend to try my patience, especially after 30 minutes of "Dark Star." Some rock bands earn their licence to jam (guess we've got to mention Can again). I don't know if the Beat of the Earth quite earns the certificate, but this record is at least under serious consideration at the City Office of Psychedelia.
Switch the brain off of "focus" and let it all come down. This is the west coast connection for all of the nutcases who want to connect the Velvet Underground, the 13th Floor Elevators, and the Beat of the Earth into a U.S. national nutcase of the sometimes uncomfortable beyond. I mean, the Beat of the Earth doesn't have the songwriting or vocal presence of those admittedly better bands, but they do match them in scummy, trippy grooviness.