In the Crags

Two songs per side, eight total. To say this rambles might be true, but that is beside the point. Unconscious Collective isn't in the business of rational song construction or linear thought. Rather, the pieces here are ruggedly handsome excursions into the beyond.

An easy shorthand would be improvisational stoner rock. The improvisational style is jazz--that is, the basic parameters are set up in advance and the members riff on a theme--but those basic parameters come more from Black Sabbath than John Coltrane.

Unconscious Collective
Pleistocene Moon 2xLP
(Tofu Carnage)

There is nothing easy about this music, though. Not even the description. The grungy feel and rock-ish instrumentation do remind me of Iceburn (before it morphed into Iceburn Collective), but that goes back a couple of decades. I'm pretty sure about three people reading this will know what I'm talking about. And even then, the comparison is largely superficial.

Even when things got loud, Iceburn was always cerebral. Unconscious Collective is more than willing to allow noise and distortion take over at times. These folks have listened to a lot of Neil Young. It's possible they have transcribed "Weld" just for fun. But again, that's a reference from the way back.

And Unconscious Collective definitely has a foot in the now. There are plenty of elements from the 60s, 70s and 90s, but the often melancholy tone feels distinctly modern. Even when the noise is at fever pitch, there's a feeling that all good things must end.

These are long pieces, ranging from six to twelve minutes a pop. This is not background music for your next party, unless that party will be including pillows, black lights and a tab for each guest. This is great music for personal listening, something that is a serious indulgence in my house. If I get an hour of free time for myself, it's like vacation. And this album facilitates and enhances that sort of freedom.

Messy at times and occasionally incoherent, Unconscious Collective engages and challenges listeners. There are plenty of folks who wig out, but few are able to keep their excesses within the realm of "regular music." I'm not one who cares all that much about what is or is not "regular," but I think we all know what I mean. Unconscious Collective is out there, but its sounds are grounded in the basics. Even the peppiest popster will grant that this is "music."

Thing is, I don't think these folks are worried about that at all. They just have a knack for creating exciting sounds. That their music stimulates the mind as much as the heart is so much the better. I don't have any idea where this journey took me, but I've already bought another ticket.

Jon Worley

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