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Funking With My Mind

July 24, 2015

Noticing his Hawkwind T-shirt as he passed me in the narrow hallway, I asked Jason if he was a fan.  Seemingly a little taken aback that I was even aware of the band, Jason confirmed his fandom and asked after my own musical tastes.  Sensing a potential opportunity to up my cool ratio, I immediately staked my claim of rocker cred, offering a quickly but carefully selected short list of personal favorites that I thought might appeal to a follower of Hawkwind’s space-traveling prog, specifically noting Focus,Hawkwind T-shirt Monster Magnet, and Robin Trower as examples of my musical leanings.  Jason responded positively, while admitting however that he was generally more moved by metal than prog and had really only gone backwards to experiment shallowly with Hawkwind via delving into the history of Motörhead bandleader, and former Hawkwinder, Lemmy Kilmeister.  Well, I also love me some Motörhead and declared so, which led Jason to ask if I “played.”  Answering negatively, I asked the same of him and learned he had a guitar with him and spent free time playing alone in his room.  Rocker bonding achieved, we each then continued on to our individual duties.

The next time we overlapped with a little time to spare, Jason asked whether I liked the band Mastodon.  I said I did, and he noted that he had seen them recently in New York with some friends and it was a great show.  I expressed some envy and noted how Mastodon’s commercial success seemed a welcome herald of potential positive prospects for a new generation of metal bands, further noting how smart and supremely talented a band of musicians they appeared to be.  Jason matter-of-factly said that Mastodon were “really good guys” too and had gained the deep respect of their fellow musicians, furthering mentioning that (Metallica guitarist) Kirk Hammett, “who was also at the concert,” had mentioned how gifted he also thought the Mastodon dudes to be.

Me: “You were at the concert with Kirk Hammett??”

Jason: “He and his girlfriend were in the box with us.”

Me: “You know Kirk Hammett??”

Jason: “Yeah.”

Me: “Dude?”

Jason: “I used to play around in a couple bands and know a lot of those guys from back then.  I don’t really like to talk about it much though.  I’m doing this now.”

Random Other Guy Who Happened to Overhear: “Yeah, he’s a real rockstar.  What was it, Nirvana or something?”

At which point Jason looked humbly uncomfortable and was likely glad that noise and the task at hand precluded more exploration of the topic.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jason a few more times, to include about music, but didn’t push regarding his personal history out of respect for his privacy and his honest good-guy humility.  In our fleeting life intersection, I found him to be a uniquely dedicated, non-complaining nose-to-the-grindstone doer of whatever needed doing.  I was pleased to have had the opportunity to say that both to him and to others at the time.  Sometime later, I googled Jason and read some of his fascinating personal story, which I’ll leave to any curious readers to look up on their own…

Mindfunk: Dropped

Which — and you’ll have to trust me here — brings us to Dropped, the second album by the short-lived Mindfunk, categorized variously online as an alternative, stoner, grunge, funk metal, or hard rock band.  Released in 1993, Dropped got its name from the fact that the band had been dropped from their deal with Sony/Epic Records following the apparently unsatisfactory commercial showing of their 1991 debut (which I’ve never heard).  Unfortunately for the band, without the backing of a major label, Dropped seemed to fall into relative obscurity almost immediately and the band itself dissolved shortly thereafter.  A travesty, if you ask me.

Listening to Dropped over the last few days, I find myself ever more convinced of its status as a lost gem with each spin.  It is somewhat of its early 90s time, but not at all dated. The music is exceptionally meaty and heavy, with some grunge-y tendencies maybe but really landing more in a just-this-side-of-stoner-metal hard rock vein to these ears.

Irrespective of where they might be from individually, as a unit the band musically exudes the Pacific Northwest to me, not the coffee shops of Seattle or Portland but rather the dark green, rain-soaked, permanently socked-in high forests.  There’s no sense of the urban here, but neither is there any vast expanse.  We’re not hampered in our movements by the press of flesh; instead it’s tightly-packed, moss-covered pines that envelop us, the tease of thin rays of sunshine plunging in from the treetops giving us a false sense that escape is possible.

Visualizing Mindfunk

That’s you in there, listening to Dropped (from: http://madrona.ecotrust.org)

I love the way the playing and production on Dropped manages to create a dense-as-hell soundscape while still seeming to leave space between the notes and a little of the white of the canvas showing through.  The mix is gorgeous, no instrument or voice overwhelming the others, but with each nonetheless clear, separate, and able to assert itself on the aural stage just so when required.  Nobody stands out, and as a result they all do.

Pat Dubar’s vocals resonate with power and depth, a vision of what Scott Stapp of Creed could have been without all the affectation and bullshit.  Shawn Johnson’s drums and John Monte’s bass provide the heft and groove on which everything else rides, but they also manage to stir in just enough individual ramble to ensure we never take them for granted.

The real kicker for me however is the mind-meld guitar playing of Jason Everman and Louis Svitek.  Listen to this album on headphones and marvel slack-jawed at the interplay between these two guitarists.  Mixed slightly to separate channels, one can hear how the pair complement, beef up, and enhance the other throughout via harmonics, harmonies, loose syncopations, and occasional outright battles, albeit never not in service of the broader song.  I hope to high heaven they did this live in the studio; I need for such real-time interpersonal artistic connection to exist in the analog world.

Mindfunk (1993)

Mindfunk – 1993 (from: http://www.barleyarts.com)

If forced, I’d offer comparisons with Alice in Chains and Soundgarden as possible touchstones for folks trying to decide whether to give Dropped a try, but I’d then immediately back away from that as I truly think Mindfunk are their own deal.  For what such offerings are worth, I must say that I personally recommend Dropped highly, with a capital HIGHLY.  Give it a shot.  Who knows, maybe I’m right.

From → Music

6 Comments
  1. I must confess, V, that the 90s were not a decade where I made any attempt whatsoever to stay connected with Rock (note upper case R) music. And rock from the heavier end of the periodic table, even less so. So even though I hope you won’t be crushed that I probably won’t immediately scour the internet for the music, your entertaining and very enjoyable piece will have lodged somewhere in my decrepit brain and who knows, some day of idle browsing, I might pick up a CD… ‘Dropped. Now that rings a bell’…

    PS. That Hawkwind t-shirt is brilliant. Doremi Fasol Latido is one of their best albums. 1537 just reviewed it with his customary wit and exuberance.

    • In fact,1537’s review got me pulling out the Hawkwind, which got me remembering, which got me pulling out Mindfunk, which led to this post. So, maybe I owe him royalties??

      Not crushed at all. The beauty of personal taste is that it’s so, you know… personal.

      • And the beauty of blogging is that web of connection and influence that results in a sharing of stories. Thanks for this one.

  2. Wow – that’s amazing! I saw Mind Funk 3 times, a couple of them supporting King’s X over here in (I’m guessing ’91 (please ask him about that, if you get the chance). That is darned cool.

    They were great too.

  3. Sorry just read it properly and realised it was a while ago.

    • Yeah, different time, very different circumstance, but indeed darn cool. I’m jealous of you having seen them, although ’91 would have been before the personnel change that served as the butterfly wing flap that would eventually lead me to this, their second album.

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