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Grateful Dead

Grayfolded (Swell / Artifact)

Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., July 25, 2008

Sci-fi Platters

Grateful Dead

Grayfolded (Swell/Artifact)

During their psychedelic heyday of the late 1960s, the Grateful Dead often centered their second set around a long, spacey, improvised jam they called "Dark Star." Not only did the song provoke LSD-fueled audiences into the cerebral stratosphere, but its minimal, cryptic lyrics also infer the heavens: "Dark Star crashes, pouring its light into ashes; reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis." For space travelers not satisfied with 30 standard minutes of "Dark Star," there's producer John Oswald's ultimate Grateful Dead fantasy. Using "plunderphonics," Oswald births one seamless, almost two-hour "Dark Star" onto two CDs by piecing together and layering portions from more than 100 different versions of the song covering a 25-year period (1968-1993). There's even a sizable snippet taken from an Austin show in November 1971. Originally released in 1994 and reissued a decade later, Grayfolded requires no spaceship to appreciate this interplanetary traveling companion.

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