Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Unfolding - How to Blow Your Mind and Have a Freakout Party (1967)

Not bad at all. Not exactly brilliant either, but this recorded free-form "freak-out" from 1967 (originally released on New York City's Audio Fidelity label) is not only not terrible, but surprisingly pretty OK for stretches, especially considering the typical quality of these types of had-to-be-there period curios that purport to blow your mind with an aural approximation of an acid trip.

This one actually manages to be something approaching far out, man, even at its most half-baked. Whether How to Blow Your Mind and Have a Freakout Party was, in fact, created as a "head" LP by practicing heads (a certain David Dalton is listed as the Unfolding's presiding mastermind -- no word in the liner notes if this is the same Dalton who was a pioneering rock scribe and founding editor of Rolling Stone), or as an exploitation of same by a faceless assemblage of session musicians is really anyone's guess. But either way, the album is decidedly not an unlistenable mess. That in itself qualifies as a kind of limited recommendation. Oh, this psychedelic party is more than a bit hit-and-miss, to be sure. For instance, opener "I've Got a Zebra -- She Can Fly" (dig that title) is five minutes of druggy guitar jamming with requisite (and not entirely uninteresting) panning effects and pitch fluctuations before the music simply cuts out mid-sentence as if a shiny bauble (or perhaps a pan of hash brownies) had just been waved in front of the Unfolding's glazed eyes. And the whole of the second "Meditations" side of the album is a melange of pseudo-philosophical babble, patchwork Eastern religious profundities (a good excuse for lots of sitars, flutes, and finger-chimes), New Age chanting, Pied Piper-type fairy tales, and bad poetry, all played straight, so to speak, and narrated in a steady baritone that is equal parts God and Vincent Price. Nary a melody within earshot, though. If that sounds like either a snore or a chore, maybe it will be for some listeners. But there is also a heart-on-sleeve earnestness to the undertaking, and the first-side sequence of "Play Your Game," "Girl from Nowhere," and "Love's Supreme Deal" cuts a suite of, yes, catchy pop-psych tunes through the chatter. It's hard to imagine that the original LP had (and, four decades removed from its original context, even harder to imagine the Gear Fab CD reissue will have) wide appeal, as these sorts of altered state-specific experiments require certain enhancements that cast particular spells for full appreciation, and approaching the music without them is like trying to watch a 3-D movie without the plastic glasses. But then it's always something of a trip to open a time capsule no matter what ends up being inside.

1. The Unfolding - I've Got A Zebra - She Can Fly (5:17)

2. The Unfolding - Play Your Game (2:52)

3. The Unfolding - Girl From Nowhere (3:09)

4. The Unfolding - Flora's Holiday (1:44)

5. The Unfolding - Love Supreme Deal Meditations (4:55)

6. The Unfolding - Prana (5:26)

7. The Unfolding - Electric Buddha (4:21)

8. The Unfolding - Hare Krishna (3:30)

9. The Unfolding - Parable (4:50)
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