Infrared Roses

For better than a quarter-century now, the Dead have made a career of going from point A to point B by way of D, Q, and even Z. It was probably inevitable, then, that someone in their tribe would fashion an entire album out of those sonic digressions between and within songs that Deadheads prefer to call the ”drums and space” portions of the band’s marathon concerts. That someone is the band’s sound ”designer,” Bob Bralove, who, via computer enhancement, spends mass quantities of Dead airtime doing things like turning Mickey Hart’s drum kit into African jawbones and Jerry Garcia’s guitar into meteor showers. The only problem in Infrared Roses is that without any tangible song structures to prop them up against, these processed all-instrumental fragments (often assembled from multiple performances) come across mostly like soundtrack snatches in search of a movie. Such cut-and- splice jobs as Garcia’s simulation of ornithological mating rites (”Sparrow Hawk Row”), or quasi-Dead keyboardist Bruce Hornsby’s extraterrestrial nocturnes (”Silver Apples of the Moon”) might strike some as free-falling high art; it struck me more like a psychedelicist’s version of Elvis Having Fun on Stage. As Dead lyricist Robert Hunter said on 1969’s ”St. Stephen” — one man gathers what another man spills. C+

Infrared Roses
  • Music