Crate-Digging: Plankton Wat / Super Minerals – Plankton Wat / Super Minerals split c40

(Stunned, 2011)

Let’s not even do anything before we address the obvious elephant in the review: the cover of this tape. Look at it, take it in, in all its psilocybinic glory. I dare you to be confused at what sort of album you’re going to listen to when you listen to Plankton Wat / Super Minerals split c40. I mean, c’mon – walk into any pseudo head’s stinky-ass dorm room, where he’s either listening to Phish, tabla, or sitar records, and you’ll likely see this exact cover adorning a wall, black light strategically placed for maximum efficiency when the moment calls. (Well, maybe not this exact cover, but you get my meaning.) The moment calls often.

See, kids, it’s a fucking mushroom, from which butterflies and moths are bursting forth in a volley of mystic symbolism, celebrating the natural and celestial oneness one achieves after chomping on said fungus, preferably along with something that has a strong flavor to cover up the, you know, shit still likely clinging to the dry pieces in your baggie. And yes, you will experience God, my friends, whether you expect to or not, the moments warm and euphoric and heavy with meaning. These moments are best experienced outdoors. Possibly with others. And with a talisman of some sort to guide you through the landscape. Hey, this tape would work! Clutch it.

And before I get any further I say this: Don’t do drugs. (This has been a public service announcement brought to you by Critical Masses.)

Oh, but you should do drugs when you listen to Plankton Wat and Super Minerals! Lots of drugs! (Again, not condoning, just … forget it, just ride this review out with me, won’t you?) Each artist leads you, in their own way, on a wandering path through untouched landscapes, revealing secrets about the surroundings and engaging in rituals of natural adoration, both wild and more restrained. A heightened sense of awareness is probably key, allowing you to tease out the subtleties in the terrain.

Plankton Wat, aka Eternal Tapestry’s Dewey Mahood, wants to forage with you. He’s got some kind of agricultural map, a compass, and a good pair of hiking boots, and a plan to live off the land in tranquility. Any discoveries beyond that are intellectual bonuses, notches on the explorer’s belt, as it were. That’s how it seems, anyway, on side A, as the meditative guitar of opener “Dark Temple” brings to mind agrarian peacefulness, perhaps existing in unbeknownst proximity to the titular ruin. “Borneo Canopy” injects a little more wildness into the composition, as if you and Mahood are rummaging around the trunks of trees for that elusive mushroom that’s gonna taste really good in that stew that Dewey’s been raving about for days. “The Path Obscured” tickles me just the right way though, in that meditative vocals make a wordless appearance, and Mahood revels in the mystery and the intrigue presented by thick fog in the forest, as if passage through it will signal the completion of a task or some deep personal realization, the discovery of which will only serve to make me stronger.

On the other side, though, is Super Minerals. Super Minerals takes whatever human connection to nature that Plankton Wat has affixed and tosses it right out the window, favoring instead the wild naturalism that deep-digging travelogue programs on television present as “lost” or “undiscovered” or “primal.” In fact, I think “Borneo Canopy” is a much more apt title for a Super Minerals track, particularly side B opener “The Herb,” as found sounds and hand percussion and dank guitar mingle in a hazy, humid rain forest floor proto-jam, an ancient recreation of prehuman habitation. The duo of Stunned label head Phil French and Magic Lantern’s William Giacchi, here augmented with M. Geddes Gengras (Robedoor, Pocahaunted, Voder Deth Squad) and Warm Climate’s Caitlin C. Mitchell assisting on percussion, are stripped to simple indigenous garb woven from leaves, and in a rush and rumble of movement evoke in the absolute simplest terms the uncontrollable busyness of jungle life. I hope “The Herb” packs a wicked punch – maybe there’s a mean stew on the horizon for the Super Minerals crew as well.

“Ancient Creatures” treads similar paths to “The Herb,” and its lengthy tribal/drone/found-sound meditation also calls into question the nature of these life forms, whether they still exist, who protects their existence, and how they interact with the world. It’s powerful stuff, indicative of a deep magic permeating all layers of life. The players’ closed-eyed, heady, euphoric sense of improvisation emanates naturally. But not at all like a drum circle. (Grr.) It’s a ride to get lost in, inhale, and experience behind your eyelids.

But don’t forget, drugs, drugs, drugs! Do lots of them,* and do them to augment listening to this cassette. Like that patchouli-and-pancho-wearing douchebag on your floor. Although neither he nor I can keep our 100-level Intro to Psych meandering observations to himself. Maybe we’re not so different after all …

Yes, God yes, we are.

*Don’t do drugs. Please. Don’t make me explain this again.

RIYL: High Wolf, Blues Control, Black Eagle Child


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