Although Magnetic Fields may have fallen by the wayside, it remains a remarkable record on its own merits. The album channels classic psychedelic rock like Jefferson Airplane and Captain Beefheart with occasionally dissonant vocal harmonies and guitar parts that range from chiming and hypnotic to stormy and off-kilter. The songs are druggily portentous, even awe-inspiring, laced through with the uniquely regal sound of Kirchen's trumpet. Magnetic Fields inspired musicologist Gertrude Kurath to work with Roger on a 1972 book about the record, and the album also drew favorable mention in noted rock journalist Michael Azerrad's 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life.
The group's initial output seems almost impossible without the effects of drugs; the liner notes to the CD reissue of Magnetic Fields describe the band's "ideal performance" as "two sets of songs, followed by a set of space jams, inspired by serious toking activity." However, things will be a little different for the group's upcoming Ann Arbor and Detroit reunion shows, as Roger and Ben travel in from their new homes in Boston and New York. "The band has decided not to drop acid again or run around in the woods smoking joints," Roger's website notes. "But this should not keep them from delivering their very psychedelic sound in a convincing manner."
Sproton Layer plays the Blind Pig on Friday, June 14, with Blue Snaggletooth.
[Originally published in June, 2013.]