Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Jan. 25, 2002
Primordial UndermindBeings of Game P-U (Camera Obscura) A careening free rock outfit takes off from deep space, landing deep in the heart of Texas by way of San Francisco and Boston. A couple of years in Austin, and Primordial Undermind lead man Eric Arn has gone from deep space to the deep end, throwing his hat in the ring with an enclave of local improv musicheads devoted to sound collage and musical experimentation. Charalambides fans will be pleased to learn that Tom Carter is now an official lobe of the Undermind, and with him comes a new focus on timbre and texture in lieu of the cosmic rock blasts the Undermind demonstrated on their 1999 effort, Universe I've Got. Fifteen-minute opener "Uva Urtana" (isn't that Jawa?) confirms this from the outset with a clattering mess of plucked guitar, mutant drones, and unnatural violin, sounding similar to Arn's buddy Rick Reed during his Abrasion Ensemble era. Thankfully, there's still some big-rock jams left in the tank, as "Glass/Spitt/Revelation" filters the ether-jams of Subarachnoid Space through an Eastern lens. "Louse Dances for Laos" ventures even further east, as Arn wrings out sitar-like scale progressions that give way to a sea of drone. "Filament" is a more placid, more melodically structured piece, and works on its own terms, even without Arn's vocals, which are absent from the entire album. Many would no doubt prefer the earlier, more Sonic Youth-like incarnation of these Terrastockers, but Beings of Game P-U holds its own rewards for the patient.