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Mushroom: Naked, Stoned & Stabbed

Naked, Stoned & Stabbed is an odd proposition. On the first listen, the album by the Californian "musical collective" sounds somehow aimless. Less obviously jazzy than previous offerings; it seems to wander through its duration like an uninterested shopper listlessly ambling through the aisles on a damp weekend. It is pleasant, without a doubt, but in a way that seems merely inoffensive and safe, rather than actually moving.

The softly softly flute meanders, the tender guitar arpeggios lilt, the gentle funk rhythm murmurs apologetically out of the speakers – and all the while the listener wonders whether there is any point to it all, and whether it is ever going to go anywhere.

With repeated listens however, green shoots of charm start to poke through the apparently lifeless façade. Beneath the basic structures of the music lies a greater depth, currents of sound ebb and flow in gentle pulsing swells, melodies that at first sounded facile grow more nuanced and heartfelt when allowed to sink in. Highlights such as "Celebration at Big Sur: the Sound of the Gulls Outside of Room 124" and "Tariq Ali" are delicately poised examples of the kind of the beguiling compositions the group are capable of, and closing the album with a version of Kevin Ayers' "Singing a song in The Morning" is an unexpected triumph. The trouble is that the mood is often spoiled by misplaced choices; the shuffle in "Take Off Your Face and Recover From That Trip You've Been On" goes on far too long without any musical advance, and "Walking Barefoot in Babylon" sounds like one spacey jazz improvisation too far.

Ultimately, despite its hidden depths, Naked Stoned & Stabbed doesn't ever fully shake of the feeling of pointless meandering. For all the moments of beauty and intrigue, there is too much here that feels like listless background music to make for a truly special album. It aims at Soft Machine and early-Gilmour-Pink Floyd, but never quite gets there. Nevertheless, it remains a laudable attempt to avoid the quick hard sell in favour of a slow burning artwork.

Track Listing
1. Infatuation
2. Celebration at Big Sur (The sound of the Gulls Outside of Room 124)
3. Jerry Rubin: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
4. All the Guitar Players Around Sean Smith Say He's Got It Coming, But He Gets it While He Can
5. Take Off Your Face and Recover From That Trip You've Been On
6. The Freak Folk Walk By Dressed Up For Each Other
7. Tariq Ali
8. Though You're Where You Want To Be, You're Not Where You Belong
9. Indulgence
10. Under the Spell
11. Walking Barefoot in Babylon
12. I'll Give You Everything I've Got For a Little Peace of Mind
13. Singing a Song in The Morning

Added: May 11th 2010
Reviewer: Richard Wheelhouse
Related Link: Band MySpace
Hits: 1502
Language: english

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