Departing from the sublime anthemic rock of their eponymous debut, Bremen Town Musicians cut loose into stretchy, less certain territories with their follow-up release, Marijuana Girl. Using group improvisation as the starting point they’ve pulled off a beguiling blend of avant space-pop.
The amorphous character of this outing is sometimes suggestive of the darkly turbulent cavities between the songs on Bowie’s Outside (which were the product of studio improvs themselves).
Vocalist Cary Moss’s guttural rasp oozes menace on the dense, oppressive atmospheres of "13 Thousand Men", eventually dissolving into paranoiac yammer on the Can-like "I Wouldn’t Join A Club That Would Have Me As A Member."
Perhaps the high point of the album can be found on the magnificently saturnine "Atomic Wheel." The white-hot slivers of creepy, shivery guitar never fail to ignite although the trippy waltz of the genuinely divine "Sweet" could seduce the radio waves given half the chance.
Groove-based Improvisation and free-association vocals can be notoriously difficult to carry off; it’s always a high-wire walk between percipient know-how and verbose noodling.
Though there are a couple of lapses in concentration here and there (the title track perhaps being the guilty party here), the overall impression is that of a band pushing away from the comfort zone into something altogether more ambiguous. Thankfully they pull it off with great assurance and make the whole thing rather listenable into the bargain.
released September 8, 2003
Cary Moss - vocals
Bill Hibbets - guitar
Fred Raimondi - guitar, guitar synth
Matt Pearson - bass
Art Goethals - drums/percussion