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The United States Of America - The United States Of America  CD (album) cover

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The United States Of America

 

Proto-Prog

4.18 | 44 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One of the earliest examples of progressive rock to come from the states, or even anywhere in the world for that matter, the USofA's only album is a great mix of west coast psychedelia, American styled avant-garde composition, electronics and left wing politics. Although USofA sounds like a lot of late 60s California bands (why do they all have violinists and female singers), they stand apart because of Joe Byrd's skills as a composer, arranger and early synthesizer player, Gordon Marroon's advanced technique on the violin, and Dorothy Moskowitz's outstanding vocals. Dorothy especially shines on the several quiet 'mystical' songs that were the hallmark of many 60s California bands.

Joe Byrd's background in academia as a student of modern American composers such as John Cage and others is evident throughout the album as he imitates Charles Ives and Cage himself by making musical collages that combine different types of classic American music, noise and electronics. Byrd's imaginative, almost avant-garde use of the analog synthesizer, which was in a very raw and infant state then, adds much to their sound, and he often combines his weird synth tones with Gordon's violin to make odd modern semi-orchestral timbres.

A curse that often plagues many west coast bands from this era is an inability to tune their instruments properly. Unfortunately, USofA seems to have that problem on one song, during which it is hard to tell if they are into quarter-tones, satire or just bad west coast tuning. The rest of the album is fairly sophisticated for it's era, especially the synthesizer sounds, which are often run through reverb and tape loop echo for maximum psychedelic effect.

There is a bizarre tape collage that closes the album that predates sampling by a couple of decades. The violinist multi tracks a jazz ballad string section while snippets of proclamations of love from various songs throughout pop history build a bizarre futuristic abstract love song.

If you want to hear classic late 60s west coast psychedelic rock with a lot of sophisticated avant-garde extras, this album is for you.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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