Record review: Cosmosquad, “Acid Test” (Marmaduke).


Jeff Kollman is one of the few guitarists in his 40s who has the cred to chew classic-rock cud. Mogg/Way and Glenn Hughes hit the mother lode when they tripped over this MF, but he’s got his own trails to blaze: Kollman and Shane Gaalaas, who pounds the drums like a high-tech freak, form the nucleus of Cosmosquad, a superbad metallically funky veteran L.A. instrumental trio. Having retired once or twice already, K&G couldn’t let it rest, and “Acid Test” is another good argument why.

Be it known that Kollman is up to any old challenge; he’s got the magic fingers and, more important, the ear and the imagination. His special quality, though, is his willingness to get reductive when he needs to. “Lubitorium,” for instance, lurches every which way, through a big Edgar Wintery riff, a couple of wiggy space trips, a punching-bag funk workout and a nimble bass solo (from Paul Shihadeh, one of several four-stringers enlisted), before Kollman re-enters to tie it all together with classy lyricism. A devious piece of composing, “Grossalicious” seesaws between arrogant come-on and nylon demurral before settling into a drunk-fuck groove; Kollman seals the deal with his spare, confident solo. It’s probably no accident that “Hindenberg” flashes on Rolls-revved Led Zeppelin, but the way its aspirational melody works within a series of shifting reharmonizations makes it a distinctive song, and I do mean song. On the record’s many improv excursions, with the energetic Gaalaas wrangling strange accents, these dudes demonstrate that they can jam like Smuckers.

I’m saving the first tune for last, cuz it’s parfait. Were Kollman and Gaalaas listening to WASP’s “Kill Fuck Die” album when they wrote “Numena”? Well, surely the Squadsmen and WASP’s Blackie all revere the Bombay exoticism of the Doors’ “The End,” and nobody in this temple precinct needs an excuse to plunge into an elephant-dance metal riff. Kollman’s spiraly solo could’ve been ripped from Quicksilver’s “Calvary”; some Tuvan throat stuff even drifts through the mix. For those who still listen on speakers, the low end locks in for a punch that’ll make you oops your lunch. Seven minutes of heaven.

Except for the sorta blues parody “Bedbucket,” which is too weird even for me, this album’s updated Owsley experience is just the thing for your Kool-Aid party. Just stay away from high windows.