Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound
Tee Pee Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/17/2001
I don't know why, but I'm really getting to hate stoner rock. Maybe it's because I never indulged in any drug more powerful than Seagram's in my lifetime (and the only thing I am addicted to is caffiene - but it's cool, my prescription is from Dr. Pepper), so there's a chance I'm just too straight to understand the cosmic noodling that takes place. Maybe it's that I'm just not hip - and I could live with that.
But for every good stoner rock band I hear, I also get the "pleasure" of checking out several half-assed bands who try to be cosmic but come crash landing faster than the Hindenburg being piloted by Captain Hazelwood. (Or is that reference too '90s? Dennis Miller, if you're reading, please help me with my subreferencing!) If stoner rock is supposed to be a mind-altering experience, then Red Giant is the bad acid of the group and their disc Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound is one bad trip.
I don't doubt for a minute that this trio - vocalist/guitarist Damien, vocalist/guitarist Alex and drummer Chris - are sincere about their musical exploits. And I also don't doubt that they're honestly trying. What's more, they're not typical stoner rock in that they do try to put some sense of musical prowess behind the scenes - unlike, say, Sleep, who musically beat off to one chord.
But the songs on Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound just don't seem to want to come to the surface and through the haze. Kicking and screaming are some semblances of songs, heard on tracks like "1960 Starchief," "Saturn Missile Battery" and "When Sirius Rises". Production-wise, this disc really needs work, as everything seems to just fall together into a gummy lump, making it hard to distinguish the vocals from the instruments at times.
If they had gotten the basics of songwriting down, Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound could have been a passable album. But when two tracks - "Ring Of The Acid Pope" and "Devils Of The Fall" - result in over 16 minutes of musical masturbation, it's enough to make you toss your stereo out the window. I actually found myself sitting at my desk, in the middle of "Devils Of The Fall," saying, "Sometimes I hate this job." It's brutal stuff, and should be avoided. No, better yet - use this in drug prevention classes, telling kids that when you do drugs, this is what you are likely to create. I'll tell you, the toughest thing our kids would touch would be the mystery meat in the cafeteria.
So, what have we learned? The listener has learned that Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound is a disc which is definitely not worth your time. The reviewer has learned that tossing a stereo out the window results in a broken window, a pissed-off neighbor (sorry about your cat, by the way) and a mess on the lawn to clean up. Maybe Red Giant should have followed the advice of a Pink Floyd song, and should have set the controls for the heart of the sun when it came to this album... and watched it melt.