Opening with the Ghost-ly ambience of the nebulous mushroom cloud, ?Intercessor,? it appears that Undermind wunderkind Eric Arn has decided to explore the more avant-garde side of his musical mind. Wife, Vanessa provides ominous electronics and percussion around the swirling, smoke-ring flute work of Otis Cleveland, who also brings hammer dulcimer and electric kalima to the party to add a touch of Eastern flavor to the proceedings. Arn?s hesitant, exploratory guitar work on ?Breathe Deep? evokes memories of the current crop of acoustic guitar impresarios, Steffan Basho-Junghans and Harris Newman, who, not coincidentally, happen to be label mates the ?mind. He keeps his feet firmly planted in the rock medium, however, and my mind occasionally drifted back to the opening segments of the Stones? ?Moonlight Mile.?
?3rd Class Sissy? sounds like it was recorded in the midst of a schoolyard brawl, with arms and legs flailing in all directions, eye gouging, fighting, spitting, shouting and fisticuffs breaking out all over the place ? and those are the musicians! If late-period Coltrane is your gig, by all means jump in to the cacophonous collection of staccato drumming, with a quagmire of percussives swallowing stray guitar strokings and myriad electronics gone haywire. For my taste, it?s just a bit too chaotic. Vanessa and Cleveland?s ?Color of Nothing? offers more of the same ? like a thousand butterflies emerging form their cocoons or a flight of Phoenixes rising form the ashes, standing up, taking a look around, and wishing they could go back inside to the warm comfort of their shells. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with these tracks, it?s just that they feel hesitant?incomplete, like the band were throwing noises into the air to hear if anything gelled and, realizing they weren?t going anywhere, decided to turn off the tape recorder and call it a song.
?Driftglass? thankfully returns to the band?s familiar, high energy jamming as evidenced on recent releases, ?Beings of Game-PU? and ?Thin Shells of A Revolution.? It?s all sludgy, grungy, gooey, funky and sticky ? like mud wrestling in molasses?OK, like Bardo Pond jamming with Linus Pauling Quintet at the bottom of a swimming pool filled with jello shots! But for the most part, ?Loss of Affect? marks a more intangible direction for the Underminders, although it may not be reflective of their current sound, as the sessions were recorded over two years ago, following which the Arns packed up their noisemakers and high tailed it out of the country, settling down in Vienna, Austria of all places! (Eric has moved several times in the past, from Connecticut ? following his stint with Wayne Rogers in Crystalized Movements to California and Austin, TX ? all at the behest of his day job, so presumably this had a lot to do with the move.) In any event, I will be curious to hear what the European milieu has done in formulating the next phase of Eric and the Undermind?s continuing growth and discovery. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (11 December, 2006)