Jim Holmberg aka MIJ/the Yodeling Astrologer neither yodels nor espouses precepts from signs of the Zodiac. This recording, originally title "Color by the Number" is a time capsule of the hippie days in the late '60s, when existential free love ideals and loose morals were justified simply by individuality. In retrospect, where these principles still exist for all the right reasons, the banal musicality of MIJ (Jim spelled backwards) is a clear and telling aspect. Not at all incompetent or untalented, Holmberg takes his cues from period Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and specifically Donovan. What he does beyond those folk-rock icons is to mess with the sonic textures of his music, using natural reel-to-reel tape feedback and echo, sometimes to extreme measures. This forced psychedelia in a primitive way is unique unto itself, though not entirely innovative. "Grok (Martian Love Cal)" exploits reverberation while adding space whistling, clanging guitar chords, and screams. Obsessed with processing, "Look into the (K)night" is a kinda mindless acid trip -- far out, man! A simple guitar framework identifies "Door Keys" on as trivial a subject as possible. But hope arises as echoed tongue clicks, ringing guitar, and metaphysical lyrics cement "Two Stars." "Romeo & Juliet" offers more of a different storytelling perspective, but a thinly veiled statement on the Vietnam war, despite the stereo imbalance for the vocals of "Little Boy," feigns Country Joe's "Fixin' to Die Rag," handling the sentiment in an insular, internal fashion. "Two Stars" is closest to Donovan, as are the pretty tune "Planet of a Flower" using a slight reggae inflection, while the naive "Love So Deep" somehow exudes sweetness. It is hard to discern whether this recording is more skillful than serious, or whether this is simply an amateur just fooling around. There's meritorious musicianship and spotty brilliance framed by innocence and wide-eyed, but seemingly stoned wonder. AMG.
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