After returning to their native state of California from a national tour, Residual Echoes went in to the studio immediately, for their most cohesive effort yet. California is comprised of four songs. "White Cloud" and "Julie Patchouli" could be called "pop songs," and they are rock and roll to the fullest, but they are ensconced in luscious, freak-out arrangements further enhanced by a select group of special guests. The second side of the LP is a suite dedicated to the state of California complete with references ranging from the construction of the railroads, the natural beauty of the land and the mating rituals of elephant seals. It ends with a distorted take on Los Angeles via UK-colored glasses with the title track which erupts into epic, pulsing, skronk-raunch riffs that cease to abate for the duration of the song's 10-minute length (all the while making references to summer, SST records, earthquakes and helicopters flying through the streets of Hollywood seeking out pillaging Slayer fans. Really. It's all there).
Phoenecian Flu And Ancient Ocean is another seething mish-mash of psychedelia, krautrock and free-noise-- the perfect follow-up to last year's highly regarded self-titled debut LP. Partially self-recorded and partially recorded in the studio, Phoenecian Flu And Ancient Ocean is full of absolutely staggering material. The endless riff-santiy of "Death Comes for the Archbishop" is followed by billowing smoke, then a fuzzy-wuzzy pop number that finally shoots itself when the smell of smoke turns out to be an amp that was on far too loud for far too long. That piece of reverbed noise insanity might've been all were it not for the depraved psychedelic dub and Monoshock tribute that follows. Odes to the acoustic guitar and former gods of the six-string close the album. What does it sound like? Everything and nothing, baby.
The Residual Echoes were formed by Adam Payne after he moved to Santa Cruz and met the encouraging forces of Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance). They have blossomed into one of that city's finest groups. Their sound is a vibrant collage of everything that has ever happened in music, all deftly manipulated and manicured by Mr. Payne into some of the most farfreaking- out jams ever heard. Santa Cruz, California-- known for abandoned military bases where rumors persist of strange mind control experiments a la Montauk-- is an area that was at one time the "serial killer capitol of the world." I know, I missed that sign, too. Anyway, you've got these mountains full of getting- away-from-the-city-type cults and communes rife with pure magical evil and ritual sacrifices. Whoa, Maury Terry; hold on there, Preston Nichols-- what's this got do with a high-energy psychedelic rock band? Have you heard about these experimental drugs that afflict enemy soldiers with intense halitosis, or cause their hair fall out, or the one that makes everyone super-horny? This album is like a really small dose of that kind of drug. Go to one of their shows. The band gets crazy and the people who see them get even crazier.