Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Aug. 25, 2006
Make Yourself a Happening Machine(Ryko)
Formed in 1980 by Milwaukee-based childhood chums Glenn Rehse and John Frankovic, Plasticland was one of the few Eighties psychedelic bands to transcend the thrift-store affectations of the short-lived Paisley Underground. Even if they were unabashed revivalists, they still earned a spot in music history. Between Rehse and Frankovic's scholarly appreciation of British psych-rock stompers like the Pretty Things and their previous collaboration in a Teutonic space-rock band called Arousing Polaris, Plasticland had an extra-thick arsenal of mind-expanding aplomb. This jam-packed, one-disc retrospective is a 30-song kaleidoscopic trip of rainbow-flavored pop nuggets and florid lyrical abstractions that recall Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. True to their genre's oft-confounding essence, Plasticland eschews chronology by leading off with the languidly buzzing title track from 1995's hard-to-find Dapper Snappings. The band's fuzzed-up origins are documented with succinct freak-outs like "Too Many Fingers" and "Euphoric Trap Door Shoes." The dandiest of them all gets its warble-laden due on "Pop! Op Drops," which clocks in at just over a minute. Culinary themes continue with "The Gingerbread House," which builds from a lonely mellotron into a fiery fantasia gone mad. Although Happening Machine omits a few key tracks like "Disengaged From the World," it remains an indispensable overview of an underappreciated band.