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The Gris Gris 

For the Season

Wednesday, Nov 9 2005
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As much acclaim as musical witch doctor Greg Ashley received for the 2004 debut by his brainchild the Gris Gris -- even snotty, too-cool-for-school Vice magazine gave it a fawning 10 out of 10 -- the group's ambitious new release For the Season is liable to have worshipful rock journos and acid-damaged freaks alike camping out on Ashley's Oakland doorstep, begging for a sip of the potent Kool-Aid he's brewing. Recorded over three months at a secluded cabin in the songwriter's native Texas, the effort further cements Ashley's status as one of neo-psychedelia's leading lights. After a disorienting 20-second opening of dead silence, the album explodes with "Ecks Em Eye," a throbbing collision of sax- and clarinet-skronk and discordant guitar that sounds like John Zorn jamming with Pink Floyd circa Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The first half of the record unfolds as a continuous suite, veering from the brooding, surf-noir menace of "Cuerpos Haran Amor Extrano" to the Farfisa-driven happy hippie bounce of "Down with Jesus," which, halfway through, somehow transforms the main riff from War's "Low Rider" into an unhinged garage-rock rave-up. Ashley isn't shy about drawing inspiration from his '60s forebears, whether mining the dark vibes of Syd Barrett and Roky Erickson or retooling the Middle Eastern stomp of the Stones' "Paint It Black" with "Pick Up Your Raygun." But when the results are as uniformly spectacular as the songs on For the Season, it's easy to forgive a bit of lysergic pilfering.

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Dave Pehling

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