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He looks like Rupert from Survivor but plays like Steve Vai on four hits of Windowpane

The guitar god power trio is one cornerstone of rock's bygone, 12-chambered-bong era that even the latest wave of rampant rock retrofitting has left by the wayside. And rightfully so. Who out there has the casaba-size testicles and blazing, reverse double-jointed sleight of hand to pull it off? Guitarist Steven Wray Lobdell (pictured; no, that's not Rupert from Survivor) effectively avoids the pitfalls of such meathead axe wankery by painting with a much broader sound palette than the average shredmeister. The Portland, Ore., musician first came to wide attention as an auxiliary member of the revived German noise freaks Faust during the late '90s. A mental breakdown that occurred while working with the band in Europe led to Lobdell's sudden return home and a brief stay at an institution, but it also spurred the formation of his current threesome, the Davis Redford Triad.

Named for a cryptic page the guitarist allegedly heard over the intercom while waiting for his flight back to the States at Heathrow Airport -- the existential distance between Miles Davis and Robert Redford suggested a vast universe to the troubled Lobdell -- the Triad serves as the launching pad for some of the wildest six-string excursions this side of Hendrix's tomb. Though Lobdell tempers his rough edges with a taste for ambient washes that echo those of Gong/System 7 mainstay Steve Hillage, it's the brain-melting salvos of feedback and distortion he unleashes, with tribal backing from bassist Matt Freid and drummer Jeffrey Helwig, that will turn smiling psych fans' cerebra into smoking ruins. Local imprint Holy Mountain has released four albums by the Davis Redford Triad (including last year's Blue Cloud), but none quite approaches the in-your-face maelstrom of experiencing the band live.

 
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