Behind the buzz: Experimental rockers from Delaware, Spindrift drifted west in the '90s to embrace the reigning space-cowboy psychedelic aesthetic. Going a bit overboard, as new-minted Californians will, they took in Ennio Morricone and Eurowestern movie music as well. Film Threat calls this fourth Spindrift album "rock 'n' roll for cinephiles," while invoking other name-brand auteurs like Peckinpah, Tarantino, and Corman.
Today's dope: A fat purplish bud of Grape Ape.
Themes from Imaginary Carnage: "Japexico" is an eerie opening fanfare that evokes the very short-lived "kung-fu Western" genre of the '70s so beloved of grindhouse movie fans. "Space Vixens Theme" sports wicked sick sitar picking amid mirage-like atmospherics. "Hellbound" is a last-train-to-Gehenna instrumental highlighted by Morriconelike nonsense chanting over a pealing bell, and "Theme from Confusion Range" is closer to first-wave psych, with the surf-rock melody carrying gnomic lyrics along like so much gully-washed flotsam. "When I Was Free" sounds like a mournful saloon dirge by comparison, but "Theme from Ghost Patrol" is a return to the wide-open Technicolor spaces of the earlier tracks. "The Legend of the Widower Colby Wallace" is a long meditation over a twisted and wrecked landscape -- the toxic and evil flipside to sugary aural tourism like Ferde Grofé's "Grand Canyon Suite." A Jimmy Dean-style badman's story song, "Theme from Amboy" rings false in precisely the same way as David Mamet's dialogue would in a Hoot Gibson movie. "Roundup" sounds like just that, and "Showdown" is one long glorious twitch of rising tension like the three-way standoff that ends The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. Kirpatrick Thomas' lead guitar runs are magisterially mystic in the way of George Harrison's early solo albums. "Theme from Drifter's Pass" is an eight-minute gaze into the campfire with lyrics relating some disaster in flashback. "Red Reflection" closes out the set in a heat-shimmering haze, the vocals keening in high-lonesome ecstasy before the whole thing grinds to a hydraulic stop.
Psychoactive verdict: Though the few actual songs don't stray far from durable templates of '50s cowboy music or '60s psych, the instrumentals are as trippy and THC friendly as anything non-Bootsy reviewed here in quite some time.
This toke's for you: Noble, steely-eyed James Arness, who died on Friday at age 88.