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  Color in the Gray Machine
  Mind the Journey
  self-released on BandCamp  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
Review: has been receiving promos for over a decade now, and one of the jokes we make to ourselves is that there should be a genre called "any stoner with a 4-track". It seems that in the mid-2000s lots of people with a bong, a vision, and a cheap recording device spat out a range of vaguely lo-fi pop music.

I blame Sufjan Stevens and Pavement for this.

With the advent of recording software and decent sound cards in laptops, recording has become even easier, and more and more people take a few bong hits, sequence some stuff on their laptop, strum a guitar, and think, "Wow, my music is awesome!"

They are, mostly, wrong.

I share this joke with you because Mind the Journey is a typical "any stoner with a MacBook" sort of act. This is the project of one Spencer Sabo, who even starts off the record with the sound of him coughing from too big of a bong-hit. Thanks for the warning Spencer. For the most part he sings, plays keyboards, and sequences drum beats.

The voice is awfully high in the mix, and overdriven at times in a way that seems "poorly recorded". The keyboard sounds ebb and flow, and it is obvious that he is fascinated by the panning function of his recording software, perhaps fascinated a bit too much. The beats he sequences vary from 1980s hand claps to a chugging drum hit.

That said, there are a few worthwhile moments here.

Dream Demon has an intense guitar riff and some real sounding drums, like an actual band played along here with Mr. Sabo. As it goes along, the band gets louder and more riffy, until at the end the guitarist kicks on the overdrive and channels Tommy Iommi as the vocals start growling. And you know, i never thought about it before, but adding some black metal to psychedelic keyboard pop is a great idea. This is a fascinating juxtaposition, and it works a lot better than i would have thought.

The other tune i really like is the opposite end of the spectrum from Dream Demon. Boats is a faint pastoral tune with strummed guitar, a faint organ drone, and bird samples tinkling behind Sabo's voice. It's pretty.

Otherwise, well, this all sounds kind of generic to me. I get lots of promos of vaguely electronic, synthpopish, poorly recorded pop just like this. Adding in some black metal growling and riffing is different though. Good idea, Mr. Sabo.

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