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by The Crazy Dreams Band
Holy Mountain (2008)
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The Crazy Dreams Band was clearly a product of the 1970s, rising and falling in a manner befitting the rock narratives and legends of the time. After coming up scrappily, playing dive bars and port towns, the executives of Big Tyme records discovered them, signing the group to an exclusive deal. They were the toast of the rock scene, touring with some of the hottest bands. Years of hard work and dues paying bore fruit. They began recording an album with one of the premier production teams of the era, hot off hit recordings for Wings and Grand Funk Railroad.

The sessions were ill fated, however. Rumors abounded of scandalous debaucheries, marathon jam sessions, mixes and re-mixes. Producers came and went. The album took months to produce, and the resultant product was too commercial for the avant crowd, and too avant for the commercial crowd. The great dream of a new rock world was coming crashing down around the Crazy Dreams Band. It is clear now that the resulting album was simply too visionary and forward thinking. Big Tyme records was not pleased. They could not hear a single.

The band, under increasing pressure from Big Tyme, headed out on an ill-advised European tour in support of Foghat designed more to pay off studio bills than to spread word of the album’s impending release. After a disastrous performance at the Paradiso club in Amsterdam (see the bootleg “A Dream Deferred: The Mewborn tapes” for a clearer picture of the end), the band dissolved.

As the members of the Crazy Dreams Band scattered to the four winds, the record was released to a tepid critical and commercial reception. The LP was destined to languish in cut-out bins for most of the 1980s, a relic of a by-gone age. Thankfully, the good people at Holy Mountain have decided to re-release this crucial artifact. It is perhaps only now that its impact and vision can be appreciated.

Of course, everything that preceded this sentence is a fiction. In truth, the Crazy Dreams Band entangled in the spring of 2008, played a handful of shows, recorded an album, and then became untangled, the members returning to their various other artistic and musical pursuits.

This does not sound like a formula for a “hit record” per se, but the resultant artifact is powerful, and hits you in any number of ways that a “side project” typically does not. It is a testament to the alchemical powers of the various members that the five tracks cohere as well as they do. How did a bunch of freaks manage to pull this off? The answer is impossible to know, lending to the allure.

As someone who has been wandering around Lexie Mountain’s various projects and releases for some time, trying to articulate my appreciation for her artistic and musical output, it is perhaps when listening to this disc that things become clear. Lexie could be the lead singer of a conventional rock band, but she chooses not to be. It is in this refusal that things become interesting, especially this time around.

The Crazy Dreams Band plays with the idea of the rock band. They flirt brazenly and dangerously with conventional song structure, still managing to imbue the normative riffage, flails, and vocalizing with some weird-ass damage, letting the song-DNA mutate into various new forms.

This playfulness is most clear in the first cut, “Four Winds of the Owl.” Nick Becker’s moog hovers, Nate Nelson’s drums kick in, and we are off gliding along, melodies hummable for days, the bass playing of Jake Freeman and keyboards of Chiara Giovando a pulsing guide.

Of course, the wheels come off quickly. Strange noises filer in, riffs repeat, wobble, and begin to veer off track. Things get raw and loose. The guides betray us, wandering off into the wilderness. By the time the funereal march of “Asian Rollers” comes around, pushed forward by the bewitching vocals of Chiara Giovando, we are aware that this could go in any direction from here. From the cock-eyed optimism of “Separate Ways” to the dubbed-out bliss of “Nightcrawler,” we are along for ride, arriving at “Exhaustion” a bit spent, sure, but pleased with the ways things went.

As someone who consumes mass quantities of music on a regular basis, I enjoyed how the Crazy Dreams Band record became stuck in my craw, leading me to visions and fantasies as I digested and processed this strange new flavor and texture Perhaps you could draw the same pleasure from this process as well.

Posted by: Tim Kabara

Audio Reviews (January 5th, 2009)


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