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Published: 2003/06/26
by Mike Greenhaus

Sweet Oblivious Antidote – Perpetual Groove

Harmonized Records 005

There seems to be a standard formula one must follow to
form a jamband: meet in college, jam in your dorm room 'til dusk, create a
psychedelic stew of jazz, funk, rock, and trance, and earn a name though
club concerts and word of mouth among musicians. Perpetual Groove fit this
model perfectly. Formed at Savannah College of Art and Design, the quartet
began jamming together in 1999 and have since retooled their lineup and
focused their sound around synthesizers, guitar, drums, and bass.

But despite the group's standard ingredients, their latest album, Sweet
Oblivious Antidote is an energetic and enjoyable disk. It's a strange
marriage of sunny pop songs and dark, Disco Biscuits trance. Their lyrics
hide personal explorations under Zappa-like guitar riffs, a deep bass
groove, and bouncy piano solos. Sweet Oblivious Antidote is enjoyable
ear-candy. It's just rooted in other people's music.

Jamband music is often characterized as mood music; the soundtrack for a
certain time of day or season of the year. Some groups, like the Grateful
Dead, do best on sunny Sunday afternoons, while others like the Disco
Biscuits, thrive on dark, late nights. Perhaps Perpetual Groove would do
best just before dawn. Opening with "Three Weeks," the disc at first evokes
the trance of a 3 am party, before awakening with the sunny vocals and tight
choruses that could even fit on a Dispatch or Dave Matthews album. Their
sound is an interesting marriage of two distinctly different sounds: dark
trance and cheerily organic pop. "Perihelion" further perpetuates this
dichotomy; its uplifting chords could be part of the Age of Aquarius, yet
seven minutes in the bright, even Southern, sounds have been replaced by
strange synthesizer experiments that symbolize the term "trance fusion."
"tsm^2," the album's finest track, is a mix between guitar solos, piano
jams, and spots of synthesizer. The piano bops up and down, following
somewhere between a Broadway soundtrack and The New Deal. It's thoroughly
enjoyable, yet unoriginal.

But though each note is reminiscent of another jam act, Phish and the Disco
Biscuits especially, Perpetual Groove rearrange these familiar sounds into a
unique style of their own. Like a DJ, they've built their sound on samples
and other musicians' styles, yet remixed them into songs uniquely their own.
"Teakwoodbetz" sounds like Pink Floyd, taking off from the realm of pop
music and soaring into deep space. "Robot Waltz" at first seems like a
classic rock ballad, before setting into a strange, dance groove. This
rearranged feeling is reaffirmed on "Sweetoblivousamtidote," a track of full
of sweet CSNYish harmonies put through a psychedelic synthesizer. It's pure
sugar, yet perhaps a little too familiar.

Maybe it's a statement on modern jambands that they seem more likely to
reorganize synthesizer sounds and guitar licks in pop's lexicons rather than
reinvent their own methods of playing. Perpetual Groove's Sweet Oblivious
Antidote is an excellent CD, worth several listens, yet each track is
reminiscent of several other bands and sounds. While this album won't change
the face of modern music it might attract the group a new following, who
will hopefully stick with the quartet until they find their own unique

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