Erica Pomerance: You Used To Think (2009)
Pomerance's naked voice is accompanied here by a tinkling piano, ululating flutes, a squawking saxophone, and rangy, twanging guitars in counterpoint with the drone of a sitar and skittering tambourines. This creates a psychedelic stew for Pomerance to traipse across with calculated atonality and a shrill, shimmering consciousness. You Used To Think uncovers a dark, expressionistic world with a Caligarian epicenter. Pomerance's metaphors are Zen-like and maniacal, wildly surreal; flower power and the almost academically concrete. Her lyrics sear the soul. In "Burn Baby Burn," she recalls the French student revolution of 1968: "There are no profits, only victims ... of moral mania ... citizens of the great society ... lying down by the cold riverside is the price of freedom." In "You Used To Think," she is sharp, funny, and completely uninhibited as she wails: "You used to think that images were answers/but you were really seeing what you see/that ghostman in your parlor chair of laughter/He was frozen to the bone, you gave him tea."
This is a gutsy album. It must be, as Pomerance more often than not eschews prettiness in music and lyrics. Her voice is an involuntary wave of sonic energy. She warbles, groans, scats, splutters, and bounces. She is a sculptor of soundthe nearest that a vocalist could come to the John Coltrane who inhabited interstellar space while hovering with spiritual abandon. Pomerance may appear to have abandoned spirituality here, but in actual fact her words and music come closest to just that in an oblique, angular way. She approaches vocals as Thelonious Monk did his quirky melodic lines, and in the end is able to achieve rapturous abandon even when the songs appear to vaporize in an air of absolute ecstasy. You Used To Think is an anthem of the '60s. By re-releasing it in this day and age, ESP-Disk has unwittingly drawn a line of relevance from the heady days of 1968 to self-destructive 2009 as it hurtles into a millennium of almost unstoppable mishap and mayhem.
Track Listing: You Used To Think; The Slippery Morning; We Came Via; The French Revolution; Julius; Burn Baby Burn; Koanisphere; Anything Goes; To Leonard From Hospital.
Personnel: Erica Pomerance: voice, guitar, hand drums; D Cooper Smith and Craig Justin: percussion; Ron Price, Bill Mitchel and Dion Grody: guitars; Gail Pollard: sitar, chanting, flute; Richard Heisler: guitar, chanting; Tom Moore: flute; Michael Ephraim: piano; Lanny Brooks: bass; Trevor Koehler: alto saxophone.
Record Label: ESP Disk