Vocalist and guitarist Ramon Medina formed Linus Pauling Quartet in 1994 after graduating from the legendary underground combo Houston Schlong Weasel and the transitional Bongtooth (that also spawned the Mike Gunn via Tom Carter and Scott Grimm),
two seminal experiences of the Houston (Texas) psychedelic movement.
The band on debut album
Immortal Classics Chinese Music (Worship Guitars, 1995)
was Clinton Heider on guitar and vocals,
Steve Finley on bass, Larry Liska on drums
(mostly Schlong Weasel veterans).
Astral Toads and Hamburger Girl are languid, eccentric ballads
that recall Rain Parade's baroque sound
and early Pink Floyd's brisk melodies.
Friendswood Development Company
and the Black Sabbath parody Linus Theme are novelties that cross the
Camper Van Beethoven with the
And the nine-minute
Mournebong testifies of an unfocused, if promising, project, spanning
several years of recordings.
The free-form acid-rock of Red Krayola and early Grateful Dead permeates
the 22-minute monster Improvise Now, the highlight of
Linus Pauling Quartet (September Girls, 1996), an album of which only
550 copies were printed.
It contains the first version of the novelty Dance Of The Bug People.
Upgraded to a six piece, with the addition of Charlie Ebersbaker ("Horshack")
on sax and Flip Osman on keyboards, LP4 released
Killing You With Rock (September Girls, 1998), their most professional
album, with well-structured and varied (if still whacky) songs such as
Hendrix's Boots and Sunn Beta, framed by the synth-based workout
Interstellar Absolute Power Bootycall Explosion
and the stellar ten-minute opus The Colour Out of Space.
The 20-minute The Great Singularity shows immense imagination and
Ashes In the Bong of God (Fleece, 2000), a sci-fi concept album of sorts,
is equally sophisticated and, if possible, even more "stoned".
the 13-minute The Man
Gato Barbieri-ish saxophone wailing over mellow, suspenseful rhtyhm
a` la Pink Floyd's Careful With That Axe o Doors' The End,
interrupted by Clinton Heider's distorted moaning
In Birds of the Amazon one guitar buzzes like a mosquito while the
other toys with a Captain Beefheart-ian motive, the drums and the synth
painting an exotic atmosphere and the whole surreal piece resembling
David Thomas' most abstract work.
After another spoken-word track (Two Artifacts),
the band launches into the farcical synth-based instrumental
Peter Buck vs. Billy Barty in the Great Unknown"
that sounds like a parody of Sixties' beach music.
13th Floor Elevator-grade croaking propels the abrasive, lo-fi garage-rock of
Helicopter in Tunisia is a driving space-rock jam in the vein of
Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine augmented with stellar guitar drones
and tribal drumming, and stretched to become a Sister Ray-ish raga.
Like all LP4 albums, Ashes overflows with ideas. If only half of them
were fully realized, it would be a timeless masterpiece.
Unfortunately, the songs are separated by spoken-word intermezzos which
detract from the music (even The Eye Of God, the best soup of
warped sound effects and voice).
Charlie Horshack, also a member of the Hawthorne Improvisation Collective,
has released several solo albums of home-made droning music
under the monicker Charlie Naked.
Horshack's manifesto are the
five free-jazz improvisations of Improvised Horsey.
The title-track of The Drone Wrench is a lengthy drone, and on the
same disc is accompanied by bizarre vignettes like
The Soundless Flute and Bliss and the Sitar.
Divine Homework is a movie soundtrack.
The Bastard Index includes electronics and trombone.
Seven Monkeys is a double disc of reverb-drenched ambient psychedelia.
The title-track of The Bassist Is Never Alone is
built around simple guitar/bass chords and by weaving overdubs and samples.
The album also contains Voicebox 3 A.M., a composition scored for
three radios and a bass.
The futuristic The Magnificent Octopus for electronic keyboards,
e-bow and Theremin and
Oceans of Shattered Glass, constructed randomly by a computer from
scores fed by the composer, promoted Horshack to the ranks of modern classical
The sound of these austere and difficult albums is almost ambient, although
too "dirty" to be relaxing or soothing.
Charlie Naked was working on an ambient/electronic/noise album called
C6H8O6 (September Gurls, 2003) is two albums in one. On the one hand,
the Quartet mixes some Hawkwind and Chrome to obtain the supercharged
Switzer, La Tapatia and Cannonball. On the other hand,
they indulge in spaced-out jams such as Airplane, the
15-minute Hall of Mirrors and the 12-minute Thorn.
All The Things Are Light (Camera Obscura, 2008) refined their
triple-guitar attack, with guitar hero Ramon Medina center stage.
The class of the performers was not matched by the inspiration of the
composers, though, as the pieces often sound like dejavu and rarely
generate powerful emotions.
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