Recordings

But it gets even more interesting: According to Harris, Contacto Espacial is meant to be heard as a soundtrack to a theoretical porn movie of the future based on a Colombian comic book hero and transvestite vampire named Sukia. Harris discovered the comic book in a burrito shop in Somis, Calif., while waiting for, what must have been, a bean and cheese. The thin tome gave the band a thematic direction; they had garnered by this time, one must assume, quite a few gizmos. This influence is not only present conceptually (which you'd never deduce unless you were just plain told), but musically as well. Suffice it to say, if you like Getz and Gilberto with your martini, then you'll like Sukia. (If you like Yma Sumac, Exotica, the B-52's, or blaxploitation, etc.) Creativity is always found in the intersections (or appropriations) -- and Sukia's effort is a busy intersection. But all the roads lead to the future, and with Contacto Espacial on your stereo you can, in those moments when you're not nodding off (this, remember, is a "soundtrack"), glimpse a future that might even be interesting.

-- Curtis Bonney

Second Sight
(Shanachie)
Whether you adore or despise the Grateful Dead, you must respect the band's singular achievement: They amassed one of the biggest and most rabid, yet sheeplike, followings in the history of Western music. Sure, Jerry Garcia and his bleary-eyed pals happened to be in the right place (Haight-Ashbury) at the right time (the '60s) and on the right drugs (LSD), but did these factors alone account for their mass appeal over three decades? Doubtful.

It seems hippies from all over the world flocked to Dead shows for the "family feeling" they lacked at home. In a real family, when a chief relative passes on, the family dynamic shifts irrevocably. So too, in the wake of Garcia's death, the Dead phenomenon has weathered some significant transformations, and not a few of them are butt-ugly.

It's well known that the Dead and their disciples dallied in shameless capitalism from the outset. So I guess it makes sense that dozens of Jerry's so-called friends and admirers have jumped on the bandwagon, flooding the market with a glut of Dead-related products from the "archival" (Dave Grisman's 1970s collaborations with Garcia in the band Old & In the Way) to "special" projects (Fire on the Mountain ... Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead) to countless Dead spinoffs hopelessly attempting to fill the live-concert void at the Maritime Hall and at overblown extravaganzas like the Further Festival.

The most recent and perhaps most wretched quasi-Dead bauble to hit the stores comes courtesy of Deadhead sound-tech Bob Bralove. The eponymous debut by (and hopeful swan song of) his group Second Sight is a cheese-laden, ultralite, synth-based exercise in limp grooves and vacuous jamming that makes Garcia and Weir's most bloated meanderings sound positively focused. Even though, like many of the other Dead projects of the last year, this one was apparently in the works before Garcia's demise (Garcia and Weir even contribute insubstantial solos to a couple of tracks), the album reeks of opportunism -- as if these hokey, middle-aged, ersatz New Age bids for psychedelia will somehow placate the pathetic stoner's withdrawal from a former life as a Deadhead, and in so doing, fatten the pockets of an otherwise unemployed sound man. Dig the pretentious song titles: "Marble Moon Beams," "Blood and Mercury," "Red Hills of Rwanda." Second Sight is obviously in touch. And man, do they rock on "Dance to the Music." Let me hear you say, "Baaaaaaa."

-- Sam Prestianni

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