Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
I've never quite been at peace with the acid folk/freak folk scene. On the surface, it seems right up my alley - the idea of uber-trippy lyrics and warm acoustic instrumentation warped through recording sounds fantastic. The execution, however, doesn't always do it for me. I still need to be spoon fed the Incredible String Band, which is a key influence for this Dutch fellow. Ton Vlasman's sort of a farm team player for the pastoral hippies, however. His voice echoes Dylan and the aforementioned ISB, but he lacks the control that those musical A-listers brought to their otherwise idiosyncratic vocals. The instrumentation is pretty minimal, but Vlasman knows his way around a ramshackle acoustic a few of the embellishments ended up getting my attention. Still, if you're a aficionado of the acid folk scene, you'll find a few things to groove into on this LP.
I'm all for the music journey, and the epic-length "Flight With a Circular Course" takes us on a weird minimal journey through the stratosphere of the ancient gods. The tracks is based around picked acoustic patterns, which flip backwards for a few segments, and is augmented by the occasional strange delay and some single organ lines beaming in from Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets." "Mithrandir the White Horse Rider" opts to journey through the Welsh countryside of the Britons instead with a bellowing flute to keep the guitar company. There are some relections of Robbie Basho, whim I covered last month, although Vlasman can't touch his level of folk guitar genius. "To Sell," "It's Alright With Me," and "Story of Too Many Prisoners" come off like second-rate Dylan, although I guess that's still better than the hordes of third- or fourth-rate or worse pretenders to the throne that even today proliferate the music scene. Meanwhile, "Walking in a Country Lane" and "The End" have more to do with the ISB and "Pale Blue Eyes" is not a Velvet Underground cover.
There are a few sparks of inspiration, especially in the longer tracks, but for the most part Ton Vlasman was simply up for a pleasant freak folk journey down already trailblazed roads. If you're already attuned to this kind of music, this deserves your ear. The rest of you may as well flip a coin over it.