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Cranium Pie - 2011 - "Mechanisms Pt. 1"

(37:49, Regal Crabomophone Records)



1.  The Awakening of the Birds 4:57
2.  Rememberrr 6:30
3.  Zones 7:23
4.  Drying in the Sun 4:35
5.  Mechanisms 9:26
6.  Run to Survive 4:58


Rob Appleton – keyboards; voices
Tim Bray – whistles; theremin
Julian Smith – drums; voices
Dan Herra – guitars; voices
Steve Meadows – bass 

Prolusion. The UK outfit CRANIUM PIE was formed back in 2006, and from their base in the Southwestern part of England they have since been featured on vinyl single productions issued by small indie labels and contributed to various theme-based sampler collections of psychedelic music. "Mechanisms Pt. 1" is their full length debut album, and was released in the fall of 2011.

Analysis. Record labels may be a thing of the past for some these days; their role and purpose isn’t as clear or defined as it was 30-40 years ago. But one of the success stories in the indie label scene is a small UK label Fruits de Mer Records, which in a few years has managed to build a steady following of their limited edition vinyl releases featuring cover versions of older, psychedelic compositions. Regal Crabomophone is an extension of their activities, a sister label for the release of new, original music, and Cranium Pie is the band given the honor of releasing the first full length disc on this label. And what we're dealing with here is a band that has taken a time machine back to the days when record labels still had a defined meaning, purpose and influence. They have gone in for landing in 1970 or thereabouts, studied the good vibes of the time extensively and crafted an album that would have made an impact in the final phase of the hippie era. Steady rhythms are the backbone, no frills and thrills but good quality supporting rhythms with the occasional impact flourish for good measure. And the guitars have more of a subservient function too actually, at least when not soloing. Gently distorted guitar licks and riffs, dripping psychedelic inspired resonances and expressions, are a key element, with the odd reverberating, drawn out drone also coming to use now and then. In the guitar soloing department we're served either straight forward harmony soloing tightly interwoven with keyboards or gently distorted, psych-oriented phrases with the occasional echoing or energetically screeching detail added in. The lead vocals, when applied, are generally treated with some effect, emphasizing the general psychedelic nature of this production. The tangents have been given the star role however: vintage organ and vintage keyboards, harmonic and free flowing, distorted and disjointed, fluctuating in symphonic backdrops or surging in semi-futuristic waves. Starring alone or co-starring with the guitar, this is an album that flaunts vintage keyboards left, right and centre. Not in a highly experimental manner, not even for 1970, but in a way that will give most anyone with a passion for psychedelic rock from yesteryear a good feeling and a strong feeling of recognition. Purebred retro-oriented material, generally pleasant and most likely a golden treasure for a select crowd.

Conclusion. "Mechanisms Pt. 1" isn't a production that will surprise anyone, other than for the fact that it has been released in 2011 rather than in 1970. But anyone with affection for psychedelic progressive rock of the true vintage variety should find this disc to be a very interesting one, true to form in sound, performance and production. If you can get hold of it that is, as this album shares the fate of most other productions issued by Fruits de Mer: the album sold out within a few weeks of its official release date.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 20, 2011
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Fruits de Mer Records
Cranium Pie


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