The KALEIDOSCOPE – ” A Beacon from Mars “

Posted: June 23, 2021 in MUSIC
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Kaleidoscope’s second album is the best non-compilation showcase of their legendary eclecticism and versatility. It takes in a blues-rocking cover of Willie Cobb’s “You Don’t Love Me” and Doug Kershaw’s Cajun “Louisiana Man”; a scary old folk song (“Greenwood Sidee,” about a woman who kills her two babies); a hilarious country-ish indictment of marriage “Baldheaded End of a Broom” two good acid-folk originals “Life Will Pass You By” and “I Found Out” and two completely dissimilar ten-minute-plus originals: the Middle Eastern “Taxim,” and the psychedelic workout “Beacon from Mars.” Every one of these disparate styles is performed with authority and commitment, and the result still has the power to amaze.

Wielding a battery of exotic instruments that once adorned a thrift-shop front window (bazouki, oud, vina, saz, doumbeg), the Kaleidoscope was every bit as multi-hued and subject-to-change as the telescope full of bright bits of colored glass the band was named after. If there had been a prize for the most eclectic psychedelic outfit, L.A.’s Kaleidoscope would have had it stashed on a shelf–between the hookah pipes and the bowling trophies–in the band’s rehearsal space.

Formed by multi-instrumentalists David Lindley and Chris Darrow, with a membership that also included multi-instrumentalist Solomon Feldthouse and multi-instrumentalists Max Buda, Chester Crill and Fenrus Epp (all the same person!) along with drummer John Vidican, this wildly experimental outfit pioneered what would become the world-music genre by darting deftly between rock, folk, blues, Cajun, country, Middle Eastern, good-time ballads and Eastern European styles, with plenty of full-blown psychedelia on the side. It’s an exotically diverse approach, explored to great effect on 1968’s A Beacon from Mars, Kaleidoscope’s second LP (the working title for the album was Bacon from Mars). Just float your head through the buoyant, sprawling, mystical title track; the driving, raga-esque “Taxim”; or the graceful opener, “I Found Out,” which unfolds like the tender petals of a young rose. “Beacon from Mars” is an album no fan of –60s West Coast psych can afford to miss!

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