Published Apr 30, 2020The debut record from actor-musician Caleb Landry Jones bills itself as "not a concept album," but it sure feels like one. The record is arranged as a roughly hour-long suite, with abrupt jumps between tempos, styles and vocal deliveries coming together as a tapestry of psychedelia. Reminiscent of the psych stylings of the early '70s along with the narrative ambition of classic progressive rock concept albums, Jones envelops himself in a dense, meandering haze of otherworldliness.
The shadow of the Beatles at their trippiest looms large here. If your formative Fab Four experiences are "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" or John Lennon's vocal tracks on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Jones' psychedelic journey might be of interest. Similarly, Jones cites Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as a significant influence as well.
The best and worst of Lennon and Barrett can be seen with Jones, from their knack for pop-friendly melodies to their aimless meandering in the realm of psychedelia. The Mother Stone is impressive in the size and scope of its ambition, but that size overwhelms any kind of narrative coherence. Psychedelic rock has always favoured hallucinatory imagery over straightforward narrative, but even that gets lost under the weight of Jones' arrangements.
The Mother Stone is meant to be taken as a whole, and this allows Jones to really create an immersive sonic atmosphere. It's a disorienting, manic, ambitious psychedelic statement filled with constant twists and turns, and this is both its biggest strength and most notable weakness. (Sacred Bones)