♫♪  Susan Alcorn / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark - Invitation to a Dream

Whoa, wait a second there, Astral Spirits. What do you mean it’s been five years and now one hundred releases since you’ve first opened the floodgates and unleashed a torrent of experimental/improvisation/jazz/fusion/far-out unclassifiable vibes on a variety of formats, spanning cassettes, compact discs, MP3s, and vinyl LPs? I simply can’t believe it. Five years doesn’t seem like that long ago, yet the quantity and quality of releases flowing from your Austin headquarters actually sort of suggests I should have expected a much longer time to pass. Let’s just call it a confused wash on my part and celebrate. Now, where’s the champagne?

Who needs champagne when you’ve got more far-out vinyl to ingest! And by “ingest,” I obviously mean “listen to,” because you can’t drink vinyl unless you melt it, and then it would be so toxic that you probably wouldn’t even be able to finish your glass of record. No, this is aural ingestion, and it’s the most appropriate way to mark the label’s centenary. Susan Alcorn, Joe McPhee, and Ken Vandermark are in peak form on Invitation to a Dream, working pedal steel guitar (Alcorn), soprano sax and pocket trumpet (McPhee), and tenor sax and clarinet (Vandermark) into a localized frenzy, sometimes solo, sometimes backed by the frenetic pacing or dense plodding of the others. It’s a sick, twisted record from sick, twisted minds, meaning that everyone’s tapping into aspects of their imaginations that most of us normies can’t even comprehend getting to. So by “sick” and “twisted,” I only mean the unusual and exhilarating results.

And yeah, Invitation often feels plucked from the logic of our unconscious minds, moving from one episode to the next without explanation of how one got there but feeling fairly natural (if not a bit disoriented) within the situation. (And thanks, Inception, for the layperson’s primer!) But that’s what makes it such an intriguing listen — you have to impose your own creative thoughts over the work and let the interpretations come to you. In the end, that’s sort of the Astral Spirits way, isn’t it? I can see a banner with something along those lines hanging in the label breakroom, right next to the “Hang in there” kitty poster and the notes imploring you to clean up after yourself once you’re finished with your lunch. Astral Spirits is a huge corporation with breakrooms and company policy statements like I’m visualizing here, right?

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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