Comets On Fire, Blue Cathedral
The MC5 and the Stooges dragged to the dark end of the freak-rock swamp
One of the members of this Santa Cruz psych-rock crew described the Comets on Fire live experience as a "vision quest." Indeed, the band pursues its transcendent ideal of punkified '60s ballroom bluster like Rocky chasing down a chicken. The myriad signifiers of 'we take it to the next level'-ness are all there: A record called Avatar that came out three years before Avatar, echo on everything, a guy who plays electronics named Noel von Harmonson. 2002's Blue Cathedral is their most convincing statement of trippiness. Singer Ethan Miller has MC5 frontman Rob Tyner's anarchic white-blues yowl down, but though the Comets songs bust out the gate with the intensity of the 5 or the Stooges, they always end up in some darker, dronier part of the freak-rock swamp. "Pussy Footing the Duke" goes from prog-blues thunderstorm to space-brained noise waltz, "The Bee and the Cracking Egg" sounds like the Blue Cheer playing inside a meat locker and "Blue Tomb" is 10 minutes long and involves lasers. A zonked-out Pink Floyd fan once described a David Gilmour guitar solo with this classic encomium: It was like acid TOOK ACID. One can only hope that guy was lucky enough to hear this record.