Get High With Mutaytor Today, Even if Burning Man Is Months Away

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L
isten to this while high: Mutaytor's Unconditional Love (The Westerfield Sessions).

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Behind the buzz: Though born in Nevada's Black Rock desert at Burning Man and world-HQ'd in an obscure Los Angeles warehouse, Mutaytor is San Franciscan almost by default. L.A.'s Burning Man scene is sexy and loud, but far too spread out and cop-hassled for the tourist-driven mainstream culture. Up here, this sprawling agglomeration of musicians, dancers, fire-spinners, aerialists, cartoon characters, and dust-crusty DIY gurus fits into a groove-pocket long since quarried by Sly Stone and Quicksilver Messenger Service. These dozen re-jiggered tunes plus two new songs were recorded in the William Westerfield House at Alamo Square, where once squat Thelonius Monk, Janis Joplin, and The Family Dog.

Today's dope: Lavender, a mellow hybrid powerful enough to tamp down the urge to dance.

THC jukebox: There are just way too many skin memories of playa days and warehouse-party nights bound up in tunes like "Give a Little Mo'" and "Ain't No Business" to squeeze into terse non-Kerouacian prose. What seats these guys above the West Coast party-band grind is the classic-rock-on-steroids songwriting of Buck A. E. Down and Atom Smith. The slight retro New Wave tinge 'Taytor was already flaunting by 2004's Island of Misfit Pscience was highlighted dramatically with addition of Oingo Boingo bassist/co-conspirator John Avila to the goodtime karass. "A Vast and Crowded Fire" would slot perfectly into a Stax-era funk mix, and "Drop the Laundry" retains status as the "Get Down Tonight" of Burner subculture; a rollicking incitement to love and its many casual substitutes.


Well, bless my peyote buttons: Pushing this set well past the usual mindblow is an end-to-end sense of antic improvisation almost impossible to capture in a studio recording, but a vibe I've seen the band chef up live many, many times. The revised "Megavolt's Theme" far outraces its origin in the festival's resident wizard of the Tesla coil, gliding into tight-cornered instrumental R&B like the trippier blocks along McLemore Avenue, or the 1970 vision of Abbey Road as rezoned by Booker T. & the M.G.'s. "Tung Jen III" rolls and echoes like a belly dancer hula-hooping in a cathedral devoted to Amon Düül II. The finale is "The Absolute Best of Times," which evokes the pell-mell ferocity and loving hedonics of 4 a.m. at the festival; the scattered beats and jack-in-the-box horns recalling that special feeling of standing between several distant parties going on at once, which is truly the best of playa time. Mutaytor goes from strength to strength in their recorded work, effortlessly lugging an ever-bulgier bag of tricks while remaining dedicated to the proposition that mere evolution takes too long.

Bummer realization department: The Man burns in 179 days. Selah, bubba.

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