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Inside the Moone

Apples in Stereo

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It’s merely an unfortunate historical accident that psychedelia originally required trippiness and self-importance to stroll through the flowers hand in hand. Assured of and in their fringe status, postmodern popsters have made a clean break with hubris. On a new long-player that takes its name from a 17th-century space-speculation treatise by John Wilkins, Denver’s Apples in Stereo mix the light, tight pop structures of 1997’s Tone Soul Evolution with the squalls and frippery of 1999’s Her Wallpaper Reverie. The resulting concoction is a sunny, danceable headphone disc that goes down like a Coke Slurpee instead of a bottle of Romilar. Though head Apple (and prolific Elephant 6 Recording Co. producer) Robert Schneider insists that this time out the Beatlesque melodies and Beach Boys-style harmonies meet with Zeppelinesque heaviosity and Sly-style funk, there’s scarcely a celestial treadmill or a riot in sight. With Built to Spill tackling guitar epics, the Flaming Lips whipping up octaphonic experiments and album-long artistic statements, and Mercury Rev tinkering with assorted backwoods weirdness, it was already possible to argue that the late ’90s produced better psychedelia than the late ’60s did. Now that the calendar has turned, the Apples are nailing down the pop side of things. Worry not. This, according to Wilkins, is just as it should be. True seers of the first psychedelic age would surely have taken up his conclusion: “Arts are not yet come to their Solstice, but the industry of future times assisted with the labours of their forefathers, may reach unto that height which wee could not attaine to.” —Glenn Dixon