Ashes in the Bong of God (2000) CD/2XLP
CD Fleece Records (USA)
2X LP September Gurls (Germany)
The first release for the millennium – “Ashes In the Bong of God”. The Great Singularity is explained- Mournebong, Stonebringer, Bongscientists, and many more mysteries are revealed. Additionally, there are two editions of this beast. The United States edition has been released by Fleece records as a CD with an exclusive bonus “Live” version of “Airplane” originally produced for KFJC-FM. The German LP pressing is a double album with a different bonus track from the same KFJC-FM session – an album side cover of Kraftwerk’s “Hall of Mirrors”. Both editions will feature different cover designs.
Why you ask 2 different bonus tracks and covers? Basically the Kraftwerk cover was too long for the CD edition and it was decided that giving each version their own bonus was kinda cool- the individualized covers grew naturally out of this idea.
The project itself began with a suggestion by Camera Obscura’s Tony Dale to use the practice tape material in a release and the whole thing balloned from there. Before anyone knew what happened a simple collection of songs were framed by instrumentals and narration….OH MY GOD! ITS A CONCEPT ALBUM! Not surprisingly, what had started as a very simple “dump the songs in order” proposition is coming out almost a year after it was initially conceived. The delays were mostly due to subtle mixing problems that caused many hours of work at The Dunlavy’s studio – but the appropriate “headphone listening mix” was finally achieved after many months. This collection is definitely the band at it’s most psyche.
The Man – Here the Archeologist is slowly melting into a stupor from the truth serum injected by the G-Men. The stupor leads to random drug induced mutterings leading into him standing up from his chair to proclaim who is or is not the man. Meanwhile, the G-men quietly wait behind the glass for the initial wave of the drug to pass.
The Eye of God – The G-Men, upon seeing the initial wave pass begin recording. The perspective changes from the clear recoding made of the G-men to a drug induced 1st person perspective of the Archeologist as he recounts his first encounter with the great singularity.
The Birds of the Amazon – Cut to a scene of the Archeologist in the Amazon years ago in his quest for the great Bong – Mournebong.
Two Artifacts – Here the Archeologist explains the origin the two artifacts Mournebong and Stonebringer, the planet from which it came, and the grand philosophical schema surrounding the Bongs.
Peter Buck vs. Billy Barty in the Great Unknown – Intermission Music
Bongscientists – The Archeologist explains the arrival of the inhabitants upon a primordial earth, earth’s early inhabitants, and how the Bongs of power helped defeat the evil bugpeople.
Grrrl – The title comes from the code broken via bong-meditation by the armies of men against the bugpeople. GRRRL simplifies to 718181812 or more importantly into a binary of 101010110011101001010110110100 – the bugpeople’s genetic root. The bug people, having realized the danger upon Hrothgar son of Healfdene’s breaking of the code, threw their full military might behind one massive assault upon outpost that housed the primitive laboratory. Many humans died in the assault but not before Hrothgar was able to achieve the proper shockwave emitted at a frequency from Mournebong that shattered the genetic structure of the Bugpeople.
History – The remainder of human history and its relation to the bongs of power (specifically Mournebong) is recounted by the archeologist.
Helicopter in Tunisia – The epic closes with the Archeologist and the G-Men touching down in Northern Africa in search of Mournebong. The Saga continues… Roll Credits…
Hall of Mirrors – (EU Bonus Track) – A live track produced for KFJC’s From the Vault. This appeared as a full studio version on C6H8O6
Airplane – (US Bonus Track) – A live track also produced for the same KFJC From the Vault episode . This also appeared as a full studio version on C6H8O6
Other Production Notes:
The Narration – Clinton Heider says “I was reluctant to do the voiceovers but Ramon and Scott made me do it, and that I have been panned in every review of the album since.”
In the introduction you hear Scott Grimm playing the government interrogator.
If you listen closely in “The Man” you can hear Clinton jokingly berate Ramon (balancing a glass slide on the guitar to create a drone) for doing nothing.
From Italy’s Rockerilla –
Nearly all of the best bands in the planetary psychedelia are treasuring, in these months, the human and creative experience of the latest Terrastock, by far the most complete and representative festival in this genre. LP4, in their six-piece asset by now stable since three years, have been as expected one of the main attractions of the event which was celebrated in November in the unprecedented setting of Seattle; a push, we presume, decisive to finalise the first concept album in the Houston’s band career, a crazy story on the Great Singularity, spaceship populated and cannabis flavoured, a cosmic trip halfway between an SF T.V movie and a surreal cartoon on the origins of creation. The project probably pre-existed, albeit in an embryonic form, since quite some time, as suggested by an explicit reference to the subject contained in the previous “Killing You With Rock”, but the concrete realisation of this coarse and slanted psycho-philosophic essay on the essence of man as ash in the bong of God has a direct and very improvised impact, looking more as the outcome of a night of zen illumination rather than as something meticulously refined and polished. The CD published by Fleece and the September Gurls labelled double LP coincide only for the nine tracks properly composing the aforementioned saga; a narrating voice a little bit reticent, overlapping or alternating with sounds and effects, and a sort of slo-burn diffused and lysergic jam atmosphere lead the album further out from those co-ordinates of mocking and self-irreverent band of their debut, placing it instead not too far from Dunlavy’s most cosmic radiations. Only a couple of episodes are derived from a riff based structure (though a loose one), the existential “Bongscientists” and the more biting “Grrrl”; the rest is a progression of open situations, with a more dilated approach than the previous album, often with a marked contrast between the visionary motion of guitars and keyboards and the much bulky one of the rhythms. An obscure and fascinating opening as “The Man”, with a rough sax of foretelling attitude, leaves way to “The Eye Of God”, a Hendrix-like sci-fi transition, according to the “And The Gods Made Love” model; having so introduced the two protagonists, the ash and the Mind giving life to the former upon dreaming, the trip goes on among an alien scenery until the enigmatic and hypnotically kraut-finale of “Helicopter in Tunisia”. The Teutonic reference is not at all casual, given the fact that the fourth side of the September Gurls edition hosts a Kraftwerk cover, “Hall Of Mirrors”, in a tight live version with an energetic pulse between the Stooges and the stoner-rock; the Houston based label, conversely, close their CD with the insinuating “Airplane”, kin to the coarse melodies of Sebadoh and Guided By Voices. I’m not sure if this can be claimed as Ramon Medina & Co.’s best effort to date, also because going beyond “Killing You With Rock” is definitely a deed, but the listening experience is fully rewarding, makes you want to roll it once more immediately…- Enrico Rammuni
From the USA’s Magnet –
… a 2,500-microdot dose of conceptual zig-zaggery so daunting that Roger Dean would get a hernia trying to sketch the album sleeve. Imagine Captain Beefheart’s magic Band “reworking” Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother right on the cusp of the Rapture. Those gurgling sounds? The aforementioned diety’s chortles of amusement at the humans’ plight. – Fred Mills
From Sweeden’s The Broken Face –
The fourth album from Linus Pauling Quartet stares deeper into the cosmos than any of their previous attempts. Where earlier outings have included the occasional catchy pop ditty and shiploads of majestic Sabbath riffdom, this one primarily heads out on dreamier trajectories. But you don’t have to worry, these Houston rockers still have their sense of humour intact, along with an unequalled knack for peppering their forays into the space-dope-epic format with a healthy dose of irony. Actually one could describe this as a concept album of sorts, with the idea of the Great Singularity being the binding link. The Great Singularity is supposed to be the one thing that connects all in the universe, sort of like the Force only not. The story LP4 is expanding on here focuses on the idea that smoking inhuman amounts of pot is the only true way to achieve that higher level of consciousness. As so many times before with these nutty kids, there exists an extremely fine line between genius and stupidity, but in my world there’s not really any question which side of the fence these space rockers fall on.
Opener “The Man” starts with some amazing sax work from Charlie Ebersbaker, implying we’re about to enter the aural gates of free jazz heaven. But the quiet guitars in the background suggest that it’ll evolve into something different, and that’s exactly what happens as they build up and reach groove rock momentum, the vocals repetitiously proclaiming, “He’s the man!” “The Eye of God” is a shorter piece with manipulated spoken word over layers of oozing synth and moog. One of the finest things here is the all instrumental “Birds of the Amazon”, with intricate guitar work spiralling its way around your body before it creeps into your encephalon and never lets go. More groovy but still plaintive rock comes in “Bongscientists” while “Grrrl” is the first truly stomping riff-drenched thing in the bunch, completed when Larry Liska goes off on his kit with incredible intensity. It works as a revelation of sorts before the sax-guitar-batterie-synth jamming “History” marches out of the speakers with intergalactic spoken word hovering over it all. Then comes the lengthy, hard-driving masterpiece “Helicopter in Tunisia” that seems to be built around the same cyclical chord structures that come back time after time. I just don’t know how they pull off ten minutes of repetitious guitar work like this, but please trust my humble opinion when I say this one will leave the kind of stupid grin glued to your face that only a rawk song can. The closing “Airplane” is exclusive for the CD edition, which is a pity since this also is a bloody fine piece of work, slowly making its way from a melancholic pop gem to a complete guitar freakout.
Vinyl connoisseurs can get “Ashes In the Bong of God” (minus “Airplane”) as a double LP from the always excellent German September Gurls imprint. This version also includes a stunning side-long version of Kraftwerk’s “Hall of Mirrors”. Of course, the obvious question is which one should you get? I honestly don’t know at this point. I know I need both. But since I’m probably one of the most avid contemporary Houston psych fans alive today, you might take my words with a grain of salt. Then on the other hand, you’d be missing something quite essential. – Mats Gustaffson
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