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Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Good read

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2001 at 12:00 AM

What niche has Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry carved out of this helter-skelter, groovy-gone-wrong, ever-expanding pop and rock universe?

Not garage rock, not psych garage; not ’60s girl group-meets-’70s sonic reducers; no, not quite.

Torch bearers of the frittered away pop genius once possessed by Brian Wilson, P.J. Proby and Scott Walker? Closer, maybe, but not the perfect fit, either.

What OC does better than perhaps anyone — at least since Roy Wood took his band the Move through some serious personal inner voyaging on 1970’s Shazam — is make drug music for people who don’t take drugs.

Matthew Smith, who writes, sings, plays guitar, sitar, trumpet and other instruments and produced the massive, nearly seamless 78-minute The Book of Spectral Projections, has crafted a noisily beautiful journey to the center of his mind.

But even as you’re carried along into some dark spaces in songs such as "My Demon Friend" and "History of Magic" — "I see you/when I close my eyes/you’re with me in my mind" — you get the sense that this steady ship will always return home in one piece.

Hence, the presence of a tune such as "Everything’s Back to Normal," a sunny retro-rocker that conjures pictures of family outings to the beach. Or "Always Less than Changing" in which the bookish Smith slices a three-minute song into chapters. And "It’s So Nice To Be Here" is the sort of Small Faces-inspired Day-Glo ditty that would have found AM-radio airtime in 1967.

Those are only a few of the recording’s 20 tracks, most of which come with deliciously indistinct titles such as "The Unseen Devourers," "The Astral Transit Authority," "Through Parallel Dimensions," "Electric Child of Witchcraft Rising" and "Of Transparent Versions."

What does it all mean? Reading Outrageous Cherry’s arcane Book won’t produce any answers. But the question hardly matters when the psychocandy tastes this good.

E-mail Walter Wasacz at


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