an extensive retrospective article and interview by Jason Shane
The Colin L. Orchestra’s (Colin Langenus, The USA Is A Monster) final installment to the three part series of albums that began withInfinite Ease and Good God comes with another hour of trippy country instrumentals, peaceful and goofy jams, and Langenus’s existential contentment.
Langenus explains the roots of COL almost perfectly: the lengthy psychedelic guitar jams come are spawned from Jimi Hendrix’s astral-physical journeys on Electric Ladyland. The romantic pop ballads are spawned from the Beatles’s The Beatles [White Album]. The relaxed fun comes from the Beastie Boys’sCheak Your Head, along with the rap that pops up in “Mendo Blues”. The funky metal and vocals stem from Living Colour’s Time’s Up. The goofiness and country stems from Ween’s Chocolate and Cheese.
The only other artist that jumps out is the Grateful Dead’s laid back psychedelic jam that makes its way into the sinewy country guitars on “Always Be”, another gem from the Colin L. Orchestra that is fit for Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.
The Colin L. Orchestra is a religious experience of smooth, rambling psychedelic country, that if played altogether is a 138 minute sleep concert that is hypnotic and cleansing like a trip through the west at 100 mph in an overgrowth of empty confessionals and noise, the latter of which Langenus explores heavily with The USA Is A Monster and solo work. If COL is pretty good, the package of Infinite Ease, Good God, and COL is a near masterpiece.
Colin Langenus, prime mover of the late, great, much missed Usaisamonster, calls “COL” is ode to records such as “Electric Ladyland,” “The White Album” and “Check Your Head,” eclectic records that blurred genres and reveled in the created stew. That fits. While there is still some of the jam aesthetic stressed in his other two solo records “Infinite Ease” and “Good God” (of which this is meant to be the final piece of a trilogy), “COL” impresses with its maturity as much as its mixing and matching. Who knew Colin L. was not only an able tunesmith, but a good, evocative singer as well?
The off-key shamanistic chanting that begins “Intro” is a short tease before the bursts open with infectious light guitar and soaring chorus.”Keeper” follows with a wistful soul groove, a short frenzied Crazy Horse solo mixed in. Langenus’ sonic explorations also range from blue-eyed space pop (“Told Ya’) to country (“Jealous”) to goth pop “(“Long Nut”).
Of the dozen songs, a few stand out above the rest. “Out Peace” offers the skewed shamanism promised by “Intro,” though more developed and, yet again, with memorable melody. The fifteen minute “Always Be” rambles along amiably like a Dead track, though unlike many long-ish GD songs does not slip into self-indulgence or induce yawning. The groove is solid, the solos tasty and well-placed, and Colin’s vocal is among the best he has recorded. The minimal, at time atonal acoustic “Naked Angel” is a solid American Primitive meditation. The other long track, clocking in at a bit over twelve minutes, is “Mendo Blues,” an odd twisted Psych epic with Dead, Neil Young and downer funk elements, and also features abstract, outrageously profane, surreal lyrics.
“COL” was intended to be laid back and eclectic, and it sure is. But such is the talent of one Colin Langenus that even his lighter fare is fraught with risk and dark wood. The array of styles is generous but never awkward, and the music is always surprising and solid. With “COL,” Colin L. may have shot arrows in all directions, but most were bullseyes.
The Colin L. Orchestra ensemble has been put together by Colin Langenus, whose previous project USAISAMONSTER recently ended its natural life as a duo of glorious free noise dimensions. Infinite Ease / Good God (NORTHERN-SPY RECORDS NSCD005) is an ambitious two-disc release and serves up a very generous helping of extremely good instrumental music and songs written by him, played by a small orchestra of musicians, contributing guitars, basses, Continue Reading
Quirky country rock in Bad Alchemy! For starters, this act hails from Brooklyn, and is signed to a label which branched off from none other than ESP Disk(!) The music is played by a man who counts Greg Ginn and Rhys Chatham amoungst his influences, and who, along with his former band USAISMONSTER, has made it abundantly clear that these influences run deep. On these tracks, however, the fiddles and guitars take the prominent seat, as though beards were back in style and the good old times were back and better than ever. Not that these songs don’t sound fresh and relevant — Continue Reading