Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: Zerfas - Zerfas (SUPERB PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE US 1973)

2 April 2009

Zerfas - Zerfas (SUPERB PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE US 1973)

zerfas,psychedelic-rocknroll,garage_1973,indianapolis,front"ZERFAS - ZERFAS" (SUPERB PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE US 1973)

This album, by the Indianapolis (see another Indianapolis band "Anonymous - Inside The Shadow") outfit featuring "The Zerfas" brothers David and Herman, is one of the best US Psychedelic records ever to have seen the light of day.
It's also proof that an independently produced album can have the perfect combination no mainstream album ever had after the mid 60s: it's free of any commercial pressures, but was made with the kind of studio time and energy normally allotted to major label releases.
All the material is self-penned which comes as a surprise as the tracks are uniformly strong, with lots of keyboards, sound effects, and some outstanding harmonies.
Zerfas are composed by some extremely talented teenagers, still young enough to think that nothing in this world can matter more than Rock and Roll, but mature enough to understand exactly what makes good music and what doesn't.
Now imagine that these teenagers win the lottery and decide to use their windfall to spend an entire year in the recording studio.

zerfas,psychedelic-rocknroll,garage,1973,indianapolis,700_labelThey write until they have eight songs they know are great, then spend that year perfecting them, using every ounce of their imagination so that each song reaches its absolute maximum potential.
Luckily, they have a studio engineer who's as creative as them, and while they go out of their way to experiment like crazy, everyone involved has enough taste to use only the very best ideas.
The members of Zerfas play well enough to express their ideas fully, have a solid sense of rhythm and timing, and every guitar solo, keyboard interlude and drum roll are perfect.
They're not complicated or show-off, just perfect.
The production is dense but not cluttered, just dark enough for the effects to have power, but clear enough for the vocals to shine through.
Zerfas' album sides open with what are arguably the two weakest tracks, which may turn some listeners off, but patience will pay off most gloriously.

The structure of Zerfas' album is impeccable.
From the opening moment, it's obvious you're in for something truly special.
"You Never Win" fades in with a backwards loop, over which a lovely melody appears.
It goes on for a while, but could continue for hours more without becoming tiresome.
It's as great and true a musical moment as there has ever been.
Rudely, the drums disrupt the calm to begin the body of the song, an updated 60s Garage Punker with Powerful organ.
As the song nears the end, the opening melody recurs, only this time it's played forwards. It's at this moment that you realize that this album is a true work of art, not just a bunch of great moments but a perfectly conceived synthesis of ideas.

zerfas,psychedelic-rocknroll,garage,1973,indianapolis,backThe songs are enlivened by Psychedelic experiments that range from the slowed-down laughter of a tickled child to someone belching the words "mushroom soup".
Not just each song, but each verse is arranged with intricate care, and surprises like the stunning percussion that ends the quiet "I Need It Higher" keep the listener guessing.
The two songs that begin side two show a bit of the spirit of 1973: the bouncy "Stoney Wellitz" (and its almost trendy moog solo), and "Hope", with its ocean sound effects and long, layered keyboard solo, are longer and more likely to appeal to, say, Progressive fans, than the Pop-oriented songs on side one.
That's not to say the seem out of place or don't work, because they do, in spades.
And in no time at all, we're back to massive walls of 60s-inspired Psychedelia.
The introduction to "Fool's Parade" is interrupted by a stunning backwards vocal.
The body of the song ends after only two minutes, only to be followed by two further minutes of sped-up guitar, slowed-down guitar, space sounds and the aforementioned 'mushroom soup' reference.
This is all set-up, though, for Zerfas' album finest moment, the closing "The Piper". A more ideal pop song is unlikely to exist.