'Tuned In' review: The Shepherd's slow-growing 'Garden' has hallucinatory air

“The Imitation Garden,” Electric Shepherd (Electric Shepherd)

Electric Shepherd’s “The Imitation Garden” is the real thing — old-school psychedelic rock by a young band from San Francisco, the motherland of psychedelic rock.

The new release has its share of blues and trance music, too, but Electric Shepherd doesn’t merely dabble in psychedelia — it immerses itself in it, which occasionally leads to jam-feeling tracks that stretch to the 8-, 10- and even 12-minute mark.

So be warned: It lingers and ambles in an unstructured cloud, void of much literal meaning. It also might leave listeners feeling as if they got a contact high without having to breathe in the acrid smoke at a sweaty music hall.

What guitarist/vocalist Mark Nelsen, drummer Sonny Pearce and bass player Tommy Anderson create obviously isn’t for everyone, certainly not those prone to impatience or those immune to the lulling call of noodling guitars, manic drums and stoner-rock bass licks. Plus the vocals appear sporadically, drifting in and out with lines about how the, “voice in my head is telling me to push on” (“The Escapist”) and, “One man’s dust is another man’s gold” (“Heaven Don’t Need”).

The glowing arrangements often languish, yet sometimes fire up into frenzies, as on “Into the Forest, Father/Angels Reprise” and “Heaven Don’t Need.” But when you give yourself 8-12 minutes to develop a song, you’ve got plenty of time to be both tedious and raging.

To its credit, “The Imitation Garden” shimmers in the blur and conjures mesmerizing moments built on everything from drones to surf guitar. And epic closer “In Search of the Ocean” is a powerful send-off that packs ghostly rumbling cadence and high-voltage electricity into its 10 minutes.

However, there’s a whole lot of not-much-going-on with “The Imitation Garden,” which sometimes feels like the equivalent of watching grass grow.

Rating (five possible): 3

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