Each of the wafers is topped by a small microchip, the kind used in '80s iconography to denote super-modern living, and on each microchip is a thin, invisible layer of lysergic acid diethylamide. We swallow the wafers -- chip and all -- and then return to our seats in the Volkswagon micro-bus: It's not that cheap street shit fouled by speed and paranoia, but real Tom Wolfe kind of stuff, and now's the time for a nice drive in the Western Pennsylvania countryside, up around Volant, Amish country. Start A People is on the iPod, plugged into the VW sound system.
By the time the road is firmly below us and the drug-opened sky's maw careening above, and it's 6:45 a.m., it's five tracks in -- "Seeds" -- and Black Moth Super Rainbow's timing couldn't be more perfect. It's as though a mangled reel of '70s TV-show soundtracks taped from LPs turned up in the attic, all soaring sci-fi synths and computerized vocals, with big-beat drums providing rhythmic punch. But it all wavers and hovers out of synch, just off enough to match the drug's flow.
Pittsburgh-based basement freaks Black Moth Super Rainbow make some of the most off-kilter, gorgeously psychedelic and phenomenally natural music to ever come out of laptop computers, Moog and modern synths, and digitally altered microphones. Comparisons abound -- IDM fiends and trip-hop bpm-counters. But really, BMSR's music is most aptly deposited in the same bank, if not the same account, as a loose confederation of studio wizards and musical fringe-wanderers that goes back in time past Boards of Canada, past Kevin Shields' wavering, shimmering Loveless (My Bloody Valentine) and Martin Denny's curious exotica, to Joe Meek's premature space oddities and Leon Theremin's human electronics.
Those historical touchpoints match BMSR because, while so much electronic and sample-delic music acts as rejection of humanity and nature, there has always been a hippie undercurrent that has understood that machines are our servants: We, as princes of nature, created them, they are nature just as we are. If the early '90s electric world, to quote Pulp, "left an important part of my brain / somewhere in a field in Hampshire," then BMSR is the children of those parts of those brains.
It's nearing dusk, and for three hours we've been tripping and fly fishing, with "Hazy Field People" soundtracking our stream-wading rave. Time to pile into the van for one last warped car-commercial ride back to South Oakland, to come down in private, with 100 close friends.