Small 13

Pelt: Snake To Snake

Good God, where did this record come from? I've listened to the thing about ten times now and I'm still beside myself. I guess I should've paid a whole lot more attention to Brown Cyclopaedia so I would've had some inkling of the shape of things to come.

Max Meadows finds Pelt exploring the inner- and outermost reaches of avant-flipped psych-noise like an evangelical preacher studies the four gospels. The band hops on somebody's magic carpet and takes the rug for a very heady ride across no fewer than three continents and at least a dozen time zones. I hear bits of Ash Ra Tempel, Charalambides, Agitation Free, Ya Ho Wha 13, and Skullflower, along with a heaping dose of cracked invention straight from the digits and crania of Pelt. Max Meadows features a wonderful blend of high-octane drones, quixotic eastern boodle, and freedom-grasp histrionics that combines to form one of the better listens I've had during the past six months. It's quite heartening to know this Virginia troupe is tending shop in the here and now (as opposed to across the drink and/or 25 years ago in time) and I might even have a chance to see 'em live if I play my cards right.

And speaking of their "live" performance, Snake to Snake captures Pelt on two separate occasions during the '95-'96 basketball season that display the band in exceptional form. I'm thinking the resplendent stigmas of the desert Crocus must have been carried across land and sea on these particular nights because the music sounds as if it was bathed in a warm orange dye and hung out to dry beneath the starlight. Of note is side two's "Gavanji II," a Fricke-meets-Radeulescu eastern-fuelled power summit that'll have you floating above the shifting sands before you can exchange your nickels for rupees.

Max Meadows and Snake to Snake make for perfect sonic companions while enjoying a casual read through the Koran -- and hey, even if you can't read Arabic, the music will make all that crazy writing look just that much cooler. I believe it's time to turn my answering machine back on and re-establish contact with the disjected minions of the drug-plugged hinterland -- cuz if I don't, Pelt are liable to release another three albums of prime cosmic huff right under my nose and I'll no doubt be the last poor bastard to smell 'em.

-- Mike, Opprobrium No. 4