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3rd Ear Experience

Stones Of A Feather (Vinyl Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

While there are many who will argue with this assessment, vinyl and digital media do not sound the same. There is a vitality and resonance with vinyl that you just don't get with digital. It might be a side-effect of the whole stylus apparatus. It doesn't matter, though. I tend to like that sound better. So, I was pleased to get this vinyl version of one of 3rd Ear Experience's best albums. This is a classy set, too. It's pressed on heavy vinyl that's colored, but hard to describe. Perhaps it looks like stone or some kind of sand structure. It's not just one color, though, and it's very cool. It also has a nice gatefold sleeve. I highly recommend this for your turntable. I have previously reviewed the CD, and since the music is the same, I'm going to run that overall review and the individual track reviews for the sake of consistency. That said, there is one extra song here "Everlasting Sea," so that review was done specifically for this article.

With this act you can always be sure that you'll get a lot of exceptional space rock. This disc is no exception. There are only three songs here with vocals, with the rest landing in instrumental territory. The balance between trippy and rocking territory is quite good. This might be the best album from this outfit, but it's a hard call to make because they are all so good.

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
Side One
           
Flight of the Annunaki

Dreamy, trippy textures open this. It's quite atmospheric. It grows gradually with some weird bits of vocalizing over the top. There is definitely a lot of space music built into this. The piece continues to evolve with some real space sound built into it. Around the four and a half minute mark (this piece is over ten minutes long) it gets into some more rocking sound. Still, it's kind of like a jazzy space music as that plays through. Around the seven minute mark this explodes into some seriously hard rocking space jams. It definitely makes me think of Hawkwind as it powers forward from there. That section drives the piece through the rest of its duration.

The Old Woman's Dance
As this comes in rather tentatively it really makes me think of early Pink Floyd. This explodes outward as it drives onward, but drops back down to mellower territory to create a contrast. The piece works in waves of mellower stuff alternating with more rocking. This is psychedelic rock built around space music and prog. There is a lot of world music in the mix. This is a classy instrumental.
Side Two
        
Return of the Peacock

A bit on the mellower end of the spectrum, this expansive and evolving jam really has some great peaks and valleys. It's another classy prog meets psychedelic and space jam.

Chungo
The best way to describe the opening on this is "tasteful weirdness." The cut works out from there a pounding rocking jam that's very cool. Around the three and a half minute mark it drops to a jam that makes me think of music from a secret agent TV show. It eventually makes it way back out to a driving, pounding jam that has hints of modern King Crimson. It eventually shifts out to more mainstream rock sounds from there.
Side Three

           

The Balladeer's Tale

Coming in nearly metal in style, this is a powerhouse jam in that early stage. Then it drops way down to near atmospherics. Vocals come in over the top with a balladic approach. It works forward getting more rocking before dropping back again to mellower space music to carry forward. This really does get into some soaring space music later in the piece.

Everlasting Sea

Picked guitar brings this in with a haunting texture. The vocals come in over the top of that concept, creating a dark psychedelic soundscape. After that vocal section a more rocking, but still slow moving, jam emerges with saxophone wailing over the top. This is just so cool. It works through and then drops back to more of that trippy psychedelic stuff to work forward. This song is great and worth having this vinyl edition for since it's not on the CD.

Side Four

     

Spacetripping (Live 2015)

This twenty minute cut is a real space rock powerhouse. It has a great balance between rocking and mellower movements. It's just pure class from start to finish, really. The vocals have a trippy, dream-state kind of vibe to them on the verses. The chorus is more rocking and brings a real Hawkwind edge to the piece. I really love the guitar soloing later in the track.

 
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