Packaged along with their latest CD, is a fascinating film of the same name, directed by Simon Chan and Joe Rubalcaba. Dead Meadow, if one felt lazy, is a stoner rock band, but they are also a pretty damn good psychedelic trio which sculpts moody soundscapes filled with hallucinatory imagery, and that is why the film, included in their latest two-disc project, is so intriguing.
Tunes rise up out of the ether, and descend upon the listener with a heaviness this is neither foreboding, nor welcoming. Instead, Dead Meadow offer a trip into a world all their own where occult symbolism, bizarre animation, odd double takes of “did I just see a tiny clown poke its head around the corner?”, and surreal trips, edited and tweaked to coincide with the abstract yet focused sheets of sonic riffery blended with flights of controlled improv, sail along on some sort of cosmically-out-of-tune trickster god path.
Divided into thirteen parts and featuring tracks cut both live on their 87-date world tour (indeed, Dead Meadow used the tracks from their final tour date for this release), and recorded in the studio, the film has a remarkable rhythm. Following its own distorted logic and inner pulse, the band manages to create a weird alternative universe where the hippie and the punk sit side by side ruminating over gothscapes and an ancient way, which welcomes the insight of hidden knowledge. The only downside is the sequences cut in the desert, which harkens back to Oliver Stone’s 1991 Doors travesty, and the acid scenes shot in a desert, and bordering on the absurdly false, rather than the sublime truth of the drug experience—it doesn’t feel like one is in the desert when one is tripping. It feels like one isn’t anywhere on this earth.
And being a citizen of this planet, one feels slightly buzzed just watching this thing. Which is good. And cheaper for that matter. The band rumbles along on their own little mystical downtempo path, delving into numerous areas of inspired audio strange gems without sacrificing anything to melody or obvious commercial potential. Jason Simon, Steve Kille, and Stephen McCarty inhabit their band and cinematic roles without an ounce of irony, but, they do explore a pretty crazy vibe with a unique portrait of down-to-earth heaven and hell occupying the same moment in time and quadrant of space.
Hats off to the Meadow for creating a singular vision that entertains, tweaks, head nods-and-fucks, and noodles within the outskirts of oblivion, with animation by Joe Mullen, another key animated sequence by The Sacrifice, and all from the original art and story by Charles Wish, which was crafted into a resonating whole by Artificial Army and Dead Meadow. The Three Kings trippy tracks are really the key here, but it helps that the band was able to craft a story with obscure elements, which entice the viewer while dazzling the mind with some robust music. The band creates a heady bit of momentum, but also winks once or twice along the way, as if to remind the audience that when taking a trip, it’s helpful if one arrives with a certain lightness of being.