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The Gris Gris

The mystical San Francisco-based Gris Gris, led by psychedelic spiritualist Greg Ashley, dish up a hearty bowl of cacophonous stew, thick and spicy as chicken gumbo simmering in the bayous of Louisiana. The brew is saturated with a generous serving of late '60s-inspired Texas avant-rock championed by the likes of Red Crayola and the 13th Floor Elevators, the twisted, acid-damaged schizoid-rock of Brother JT (ex-Original Sins frontman John Terlesky) and the trance-inducing Spacemen 3.

While their self-titled debut liberally tolerated lengthy periods of inconsequential mind-battering jams and distortion-riddled feedback--before finally melting comfortably into stoned-out bliss--For the Season exorcizes these demons, delivering more vigilant, structured songwriting. The screeching fuzz guitars, squalling sax, chanted vocals and church-like organs are still evident, but are now utilized more cohesively.

For example, on the organ-pumping, gospel/R&B-tainted vibe of "Down With Jesus," punctuated with joyous hand-clapping and warped lead guitar, Ashley rises from a mushroom-clouded pulpit like a hellfire preacher overseeing an orchestral, choir-abetted pairing of Velvet Underground and a corrupted Jars of Clay. Album centerpiece "Year Zero" is a monumental freeform jamming experience in classic Funkadelic-meets-Pink Floyd expressionism, beginning safely, transforming into noisy wall-of guitars and keyboard implosions, and finally trailing off in otherworldly tangents summoned forth by Ashley's psychotic reactions.

More by Ron Bally

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