"The Last Real Experience"

     The first description I read about Chemystry Set and their music was that they are a San Francisco band with a unique approach combining funk, jazz, rock, folk, Zairian rhumba, Kraut-rock and Latin rhythms. For a moment, I thought, why narrow your focus--grinů The reality is after listening--hey this isn't a bad description for a one sentence approach. Another short description listed them as an anarcho groove rock band. I had to hear their recent work for myself. I contacted them and set up the opportunity to listen to their most recent release, "The Last Real Experience".
     The group is made up of a variety of talented musicians: Sven Eberlein on guitar and vocals, Patty Hughes playing keyboards and singing vocals, Baba Njhoni picking at the mandolin and lending vocals, Dickie Ogden playing the drums, and Joel Oppenheimer filling in the bottom with his bass.  The band is quite visible across the southern area of California and I am quite envious of the local patrons who get to see them on a regular basis.
     The opening tune and title track,
The Last Real Experience, begins with a woman's voice speaking in Portuguese through a filter that sounds like a telephone [maybe it is a telephone--grin]. The band overlays the opening dialog and a rock/jazz beat with a world sound lent by what I believe is a banjo in the mix. Clever keyboard and guitar fills create interest while the bass and drums create the rhythm. The vocal harmony reminds me of the early mixes of vocals of the Jefferson Airplane but with a jazzier and more polished feel. Yet the whole is very loose and fun!
Walk opens with a bouncy Supertramp sort of keyboard riff but quickly all similarities to that band change as the tune evolves into a pleasant tune about life enlightening for the subject with his walk through the diversity of earth's inhabitants. Drummer Dickie sets the pace like a metronome and the band manages to keep an exact pace but in the same moment keep the sound free and evolving. The guitar work flows like it was made of rubber.
Salaam starts with an ancient sound you might imagine in an eastern temple. Guitar builds this song into a melodic round giving the lis

tener a musical picture of an open bazaar of life where the listener can receive the many rewards of their labor. It is full of many bouncing micro solos and integrated instrumental and vocal textures.
Think opens with an acoustic guitar riff expanded with light percussion and bass. A jazzy feel builds to rolling song with multiple movements somehow all sown together. It then twists and warps to a driving rocker before dropping back to a loose jazzy pace. The vocals describe a unique view of how we think and interact with what we learn and forget. A great slide solo with a slinky sort of texture dresses the middle of the song.
Follow The Idiopath features very intricate interplay between guitar, keyboard, bass and percussion while the voices play on top. There are interesting turnarounds and stops. Listen, read the lyrics, listen, think--you will get it.
Now And Right Here opens with a Brubeck timed bounce created with percussion and piano. As the song builds you are drawn into the menagerie created by the words. Other instruments build and swell far in the background. Then it twists into Leading The Saint. Stinging guitar sets the dark mood of the song. You can feel the despair.
Yeller is a bluegrass tune with guitar, bass [might be a washtub bass], voice and banjo. A couple of yeh haw's and we are foot stomping and romping through a song about a girl that makes this fellow's beer taste better.
Seed For A Dream speeds along with rapid drumming and a fast pace set of riffs. Psychedelic guitar solos romp on top of all. Patty takes the vocals.
     Ghost Of Flesh features the piano and voice of a young guest member of the band. It is a fun close to the CD.

     The Chemystry Set is fun, intriguing listening and a highly recommended purchase. They surprise me with new details every time I listen. Drop by their web site at and read about their band as well as link to where you can sample some of their music and pick up their latest disc. The Chemystry Set has a short, fun, and informative video available using Windows Media, click here to view it. Enjoy! ~ steve ekblad  -

Chemystry Set relaxes at their at home based studio/rehearsal space