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Brown Cyclopaedia

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Album Review

The full-length debut from Richmond, VA, trio Pelt, Brown Cyclopaedia (also known as Brown Cyclop in some circles) is the most song-oriented effort in this decidedly non-song-oriented band's catalog. Originally released as a double 12" LP in an edition of 300 on the band's own Radioactive Rat label, the record sprawls into wide-open, acid-drenched vistas not unlike those patrolled by early records on New Zealand's maverick Xpressway label. Alternating simple, haunting vocals and slurred, tinkling melodic themes with dense guitar soundworlds, Patrick Best, Mike Gangloff, and Jack Rose wield a fairly standard arsenal of guitars and electronics here — standard, at least, compared to the cache of homemade instruments they would come to employ on future recordings. The constantly shifting sonic landscape is classic outsider noise: snatches of conversation, found sound, and late-night scuttle alternating with limited but uplifting bursts of nearly straight-ahead rock. A prime example is the segue between "Green Flower" and "Couldn't See It." Middle Eastern drones float up from a cloud of guitar dust, and a tiny flash of immediate post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd might come to mind during tracks like "Phantom Tick." More than a sliver of the Sun City Girls is palpable on "Almighty." But ultimately, Brown Cyclopaedia envelopes the diligent listener in a sound city that is original, carefully constructed, and thoughtfully considered: Pelt's debut made a huge splash on the underground/improv scene for the right reason — -it's really good.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Pelt is a trio formed in Richmond, VA, whose drones are influenced by psychedelia, modern composition, and, on albums such as 2001's Ayahuasca, Appalachian folk music and Indian raga. Its core members include Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, and Patrick Best, but the band often collaborates with other artists and groups. After a few early singles, Pelt solidified its lineup and released its first album, Brown Cyclopaedia, on its own Radioactive Rat label in 1995; it was later reissued by VHF. Pelt's second...
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Brown Cyclopaedia, Pelt
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