The definition of the term psychedelic rock fluctuates like the hues of a mood ring. Images of tie-dyes and the Grateful Dead come to mind for some, or their modern jamband disciples Phish.
Contemporary groups like Comets on Fire, coming to Kings on Monday, June 27, plow a defiantly different row, snatching from past and present in their attempts at rising to a higher plane. Starting out, as many rock bands do, as an excuse for friends to get together, have a few beers and make some noise, Comets on Fire began rattling through these dense workouts in 1999 in their hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. West Coast clichés persist, but the unholy conflagration these guys put forth is far from mellow, man, with overloaded guitars and brimstone vocal passages and plenty of echoplex. The resulting din shares more kinship with the work of tweaked acid rock freaks of the '60s like Blue Cheer or Japanese heavy-hitters High Rise than the peace-and-love crowd. This is not your uncle's psychedelia.
Strains of music originating in the golden age of experimental music abound today, with new interpretations of free jazz and folk music gaining a popular audience like never before. The Comets recently added pal Ben Chasny on guitar, otherwise known in his acoustic folk persona as Six Organs of Admittance. Chasny adds a deft touch to the Comets' brash sound, a welcome supplement to their potion.
Strip away the shredded notes and percussive thundering of the Comets and you have the basic foundation of touring partner Growing, a trio of guitar and amp manipulation teasing out ambient walls of reverb like so much cotton candy. Part soundscape a la Brian Eno meets The Melvins, part environmental landscape, Growing put out a stellar hair-raiser last year, The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light. They skirt the definition of song and sound art, working in 10-minute-plus slabs of textured waves. When you think the doom vibe has finally set in, the dark guitar fades into a blissful state of glowing light, replete with chirping birds and flowing water. Please arrive promptly for their set. Raleigh's own STRANGE will open.
Comets on Fire plays at Kings on Monday, June 27 with Growing and STRANGE. Show starts at 10 p.m. Call 831-1005 for more info.