Monday, June 16, 2008

Comet - This Is Freedom

(Last Beat, 1995)

Given how much I love Comet’s seemingly forgotten Chandelier Musings album, which came out a year after “This is Freedom,” it’s hard for me to give this single the critical eye that it deserves; reflected glory and all of that, you know? Still, while the LP dealt in the towering, glistening orch-rock of Rollerskate Skinny and Satellite Heart/Clouds-era Flaming Lips, this 7” – though sonically dense – is a comparatively raw and less-majestic affair that leans on guitar effects and volume instead of trusting in the considerable melodic strength of the group’s songwriting. The B-side gives us a perfect point of comparison with the album, a demo-quality version of Chandelier-opener “Rocket Flare” that makes it clear that Comet had everything in place by the time of single #1 except for mastery of the studio (or, perhaps, just a steady cash flow) – the LP recording is rippling and dynamic, whereas this take feels flat and forced. Rather than the Ronald Jones Flaming Lips, a more accurate reference for this material might be the crunchy, rockier shoegaze that bands like the early Smashing Pumpkins were churning out at the beginning of the decade. But both songs on here are interesting, if rough, listens anyway, and the single is a worthwhile walk-before-you-run companion to the super-recommended full-length.

Comet’s work through Chandelier Musings was produced, appropriately, by David Baker – these discs are honestly what Mercury Rev would have sounded like if they had held onto their guitars and hadn’t stumbled off into fey electronic mysticism. After the album, however, the band sadly disappeared until 2005, when it reformed and put together a limited EP for Spune Productions called Feathers From the Wing.

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