stars on esp - an indepth analysis

Written by drew schwickerath on unknown.

well, fellow listies - i've been mulling over hnia's "stars on esp" for a week or so now. my first thought was "the live tape that blu did during holidays was way better." well, "stars" is finally edging its way into the pleasure center of my brain.

but that isn't what i want to tell you. what i want to suggest is that the underlying whole of this brilliant album. "'stars' a brilliant album?" you ask incredulously. "no way is this on par with 'home is in your head'/'livonia' (depending upon your preference - most of aren't saying 'mouth by mouth', so i'll skip that one)!" you counter. "how?!" you demand. if you will give me a moment, and stop interupting, i will explain.

1. what is "esp"? well, i might be lying if i said it stands for extra-sensory perception. warren says it was a 60's label. we should believe warren. however, the whole idea of timeSTEREO (warren granted me momentary use of my caps lock key - all praise his powers) is that a tape recorder was sent back in time to record some great music (or something like that), right? that is similar to esp (the former definition), while the time is esp (the second definition). okay, so i'm reaching, but keep in mind the sounds of yesteryear and the idea of a now-defunct label, as we move on to point

2. look at the cover of the "stars". think "hey, this looks like a record label sampler." think "it has sort of a sixties feel, even though it has definite nineties production methods." we have a strange "27 mars 1996" date and a big old catalog number right there on the front, just like on some of your favorite "in stereophonic sound" recordings of three decades ago. lots of relevant info on the front, rather than buried inside.

3. now flip the gem case over and humor me for a moment. this looks like a set of bands and album titles, catalog numbers and all. catalog number 6010.1: the band is "Letter" and the album/single is "Dub Love Letter." catalog number 6010.2: the band is "HOME" and the album/single is "This World is Not My Home." brilliant. cataloge number 6010.8: the band is (get this) the beech boys, the song is universal frequencies. (definitely that one is from a parallel universe.) these are the stars on esp (the label).

4. to clinch the interpretation of the album art, i turn to the image underlying the back cover (also found in the insert). it is a coil of electrical wire, a rubber tube, a star, and such sitting-on/taped-to a table. in the insert, it looks pretty much like a bad garage scene or a low budget mad scientist. on the back of the gem case, however, it looks like an abstract turntable. vaughn gets an applause from me for the combination of 2, 3, and 4.

5. the music. well, it is mostly girl-band type stuff. early sixties. a little beach music (universal frequencies). some of the more dark stuff ala - i can't remember the bands that did this sort of stuff, but i know that they existed - (what else is new list and answer to rainbow at midnight). some leakage where the reception of the parallel universe fades or perhaps just where it differs from our own sixties (end of the sand that holds the lake in place and i can't live in this world anymore and, less so, last one - oh, and the beginning of dub love letter).

6. this definitely didn't come from our universe. these lyrics have some of the darker sides of things that generally weren't discussed. unwed pregrancies (what are you wearing tomorrow). suicide - or at least depression (this world is not my home and all of its variations). murder (famous goodbye king)? definitely only recordable on timeSTEREO. (okay, this isn't really an argument for brilliance, but i wanted to get it in, while i'm analyzing a perfectly good album to...hello?)

7. the music. it is just out and out excellent. even if i throw out all of the arguments for the artistic wholeness of "stars," i still would love the music. the bees is brilliant. it just feels so wonderfully upbeat, it brings an ear-to-ear grin to my face. universal frequencies is the best song the beach boys never wrote. movie is simple, yet wonderful. as usual, it is virtually impossible to explain why the music is wonderful without talking about either intangibles (the song is "simple, yet wonderful") or using (imperial) tons of music theory to back up the importance of the piece. i'll just leave it with the first three sentences. "the music. it is just out and out excellent. even if i throw out all of the arguments for the artistic wholeness of "stars," i still would love the music."

so, while i won't say it is better or worse than , i will say that it is brilliant, as a whole. that is one thing that warren (with the help of v23) can do. they did it with "home" and now they have done it with "stars." this is one i'm glad i bought. (how often do you say that?) - drew - warren didn't *steal* my caps lock key. he holds it in escrow until a court order says that i need it, as per the ((re)re)introduced clipper legislation.

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