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Thomas Mudrick - Mongoose Thompson & The Kalapuya Spirit [CASSETTE] TDRCO-048

Cassette released May 24, 2021 with new cover art by Thomas Mudrick
CD/Digital released August 9, 2013

Review by Jason Randall Smith [ 8/13/2013 ]:
Mongoose Thompson And The Kalapuya Spirit offers a comprehensive view of Thomas Mudrick’s love for all things psychedelic. Echoes Of The Kalapuya opens the album with a solo Native American flute piece acting as an invocation, its calming tones filling the atmosphere like the scent of incense after it’s just been lit. It prepares the listener for every selection that follows, which makes "Let It Flow" the perfect counterpart. Easing through the speakers on a cushion of gentle guitars, tambourine shakes, and tranquil whispers ('let it flow, let it go'), it is the quintessential soundtrack to centering the spirit, the embodiment of yoga in aural form.

The sonic cacophony of instruments that fades in on "Ants Crawl On Them Too" quickly subsides, giving away to a steady stream of acoustic guitar strums and sitar twangs. A drum kit can be heard off in the distance as electric guitar riffs work their way through fuzz effects and occasional sub-bass frequencies that shake the song’s foundation. "Grey Calculator" is a sun-drenched stew of rhythm box pulses and vocals that drown in a sea of shimmering guitar chords. It’s probably the closest that Mudrick comes to mirroring the shoegazer goodness of Slowdive or even My Bloody Valentine.

"Valley Creek" returns to the solo woodwind meditative qualities of the opening cut, realigning our focus before Mudrick experiments with other methods of auditory hypnosis. New levels of consciousness are achieved via the cavernous drums and soul-caressing chords found on "Toadski" or the forlorn organ riffs that rise above the dense harmonies of "So Low". In contrast, "Fast Forward" is surprisingly light, a synth-pop distraction amidst heady out-of-body selections. Despite its bubbly bass tones and paper thin locked groove, it retains the airy nature of the other selections, particularly as it comes in for a landing towards the end and hovers slightly above the ground in a cloud of heavenly ambience and improvised guitar motifs.

"Moonbeam" and "Cola Vagola" are undoubtedly the standout selections of this album, taking the listener on an interstellar trip that lingers long after the songs fade out. The former cut is anchored by synthesized bass rumbles as the main melody oscillates back and forth between chords, occasionally interrupted by the whimsical whirs and bleeps of a computer mainframe. If "Moonbeam" represents the preparation before takeoff, then "Cola Vagola" is the view from outer space while orbiting the moon. Expansive in execution and as epic as Pink Floyd’s most lauded material, it borrows the musical elements from "Moonbeam" and stretches them out for maximum eardrum appeal. A chugging rhythm takes over during the song’s second movement and gradually picks up speed until it is a blinding supernova, engulfing everything that came before it in unconditional love and eternal light.

As "Equinox" concludes the album with dreamy waves of sound and disembodied voices, it becomes clear that Mongoose Thompson And The Kalapuya Spirit is a crowning achievement for the Ten Dollar label. Although the imprint has visited these transcendental spaces before, Thomas Mudrick’s latest speaks with the mind and heart of a lifelong resident. It may not achieve world peace, but it can bring peace of mind for all who are willing to give this album the attention that it so rightly deserves. (Jason Randall Smith)