Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy is here, and just in time for everyone!
As one of the practitioners of an increasingly rare form of musical alchemy, Major Stars have proven to be an antidote to all sorts of real-world trauma. Put on an album of theirs, and you’re bound to be catapulted into a world of rock-based abstraction, diffraction, and finally, sweet distraction.
So whence then, these 'Roots of Confusion', these 'Seeds of Joy'? How, after over 20 years of record making, all of it at a focused level of concentration (which followed a number of OTHER years of playing and record making), does one arrive at 'roots' and 'seeds?' Who knows! Maybe it’s related to Motion Set, the previous Major Stars record, being a mere two years old at this time of this writing; previous inter-album gestations were in the more formidable 3-4 year length. Add a Wayne Rogers solo alb also arriving this year and it’s pretty clear that over in Fort Major Stars, the creative current is presently in a mega-waxing state, with momentum that won’t quit! At moments like these, it’s easy to feel connected to sources like roots and seeds – and when you lay the needle onto the platter, you too will feel this inspiration…
Playing material arranged for a sextet fronted by a trio of guitars,
Major Stars have developed a habit of rehearsing regularly and repeatedly, then showing up to record with the material fully conceived and ready to roll – and Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy was no exception, with most of the songs (except 'Out In the Light') being run through a thousand times or so before coming to the studio and getting tracked in a day and a half.
Their triple-guitar alignment has a fiendish way of affecting one’s depth-of-field, and while it is easy to describe what Major Stars do in terms of bombast, this shortchanges the tactile components of the band – a song like 'Dawn and the Spirit' is an epic workout of no mean complexity, and the layers of guitars throughout are arrayed to explore aspects of melody and progression in the songs, not to saw and solo mindlessly away! But people – what are you gonna do? The aggressive, transporting aspects of this music tend to grab listeners by their lapels and slap them around a bit, so if perceptions of sonic architecture are lost in the melee, well, that’s kind of
the goal anyway.
New vocalist Noell Dorsey, a veteran of many different projects, brings an inspiring new sonic element to the mix, including several passages of – gasp! - harmony vocals. In general, the eternal psych sheen that Major Stars are known for abounds in extra-fine production twists on Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy. Seth Manchester provided thoroughly modern engineering at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI, using a number of analog devices to nail the unique extremes in each of the songs, then seamlessly employed digital faculties to mix.
All this plus a lovely Robert Beatty design on a tip-on Stoughton sleeve makes for the kind of liberating album encounter that is nothing less than NEEDED nowadays. Fun, too! Shine on, Major Stars.