The Dream Syndicate, The Universe inside (Anti-)

In their original incarnation, Steve Wynn’s Dream Syndicate came on concise and uptight, sardonic and fey, all sharp angles and Nu Wave hairdos. Although this same concept would have been more than welcome with their reincarnation, instead The Syndicate has branched out, relaxed, and expanded their boundaries into deep space, a jam band without the patchouli, and it works not just because it’s so unexpected but because this is apparently what they should have been all along. If the first two post-rebirth albums were tentative missions to nearby moonscapes, then “The Universe Inside” launches itself headlong into the stratosphere. “The Regulator” lays down the law right from the outset, 20-minutes of guitar dolphin calls, jazzy percussion, unhinged sax, and a mighty, mighty red clay sitar line, suggesting what it would have sounded like had The Stooges followed first album deep cut ‘We Will Fall” all the way to its conclusion. There’s no song here under 7 minutes, which is a delicious fact when dealing with music as heady and reeling as “Dusting Off The Rust”, one of the very few Coltrane-quoting tracks that actually exists in the same spirit as its influencer. And speaking of well-named beasts, the album title itself can be used to best describe synapse searers like “The Slowest Rendition” and “Apropos Of Nothing”, music that reaches for the exact point where the body ends and the beyond takes over.