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3rd Ear Experience

Stoned Gold

Review by Gary Hill

One thing you can almost always say about space rock is that generally changes aren't quick within the music. That's true of this album for the most part. This is the latest from the band 3rd Ear Experience, and I've reviewed a lot of their other works. This might be their most effective disc yet. It has the same kind of jam band meets space rock and psychedelia textures as all their work. It just seems to gel particularly well. If you've enjoyed this band in the past, pick this up for certain. You will not be disappointed. If you haven't heard them, it would be a great first exposure. This is worth having for the title track alone.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Infinite Unmanifest
The sound of amp hum opens this, making it sound rather DIY. Percussion comes in with an almost jazzy element as the cut begins to develop. They work out into some killer space rock territory as they move forward. The changes on this are gradual, but they are definite. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing built into this beast. It's a great merging of space rock, psychedelia and jam band sounds. This makes great use of the contrast between mellower and more rocking sections. Some of the faster paced, screaming hot jamming later is so incredibly intense.
Iceberg Dreams
Coming in mellower and remaining that way as it moves forward, this does have an icy beauty to it. There is a drop back to just keyboards for a time. Then the cut begins to move back upward from there. It gets a lot more rocking as it climbs ever higher. There is some powerful and quite inspired space rock jamming that takes it as this continues. Although this remains space rock, it turns toward metal stoner rock for a couple moments before it drops way down. That dropped back movement eventually ends it.
Stoned Gold
The title track comes in fast paced and rocking. The opening makes me think of what you might get if Iron Maiden did instrumental space rock. It shifts to some freaky, rather jazzy stuff after that mode. Then it powers back up to the smoking hot Maiden-space styled sounds. This is such a hot jam. It gets more of that jazzy thing included at another point, but more or less remains close to the intense fast paced stuff for the bulk. There is a drop back to a slower, stoner rock like jam around the six minute mark. There are some vocals low in the mix, adding to that stoner rock comparison. That section eventually takes the cut out. This is my favorite cut on this set. In fact, it might be my favorite 3rd Ear Experience track. It's so potent.
I Am Not Robot
This cut is almost 13 and a half minutes long. Weird sound effects and bits of keyboards make me think of the Cybermen from 1970s "Doctor Who." The cut turns toward harder rocking guitar dominated stuff in a droning jam before moving out to more typical space rock jamming. Again they take this into some powerhouse stuff. I really love some of the instrumental passages on this thing. I love the harder edged metallic jamming that ensues just before it drops back to more pure space. That space gets more intense to take the piece out.
No Walls, No Wars
This is quite percussive as it starts and works forward. The cut drops back for some basically shouted in the distance vocals at several points, rising back up after it. We get some sung a some spoken vocals on this piece, too.
The Drone
Another track with vocals, this is a mellower, but quite cool space rock tune. As it powers up further down the road it even gets a bit punky. There are some tribal elements that show up for a time, too. The guitar soloing is so classy. The space rock ramps up in intensity as this marches forward and works through various changes.
 
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