Fortean Times, May 2003

Gonzo Science
Jim Richardson
Earthology Records 2001
CD, $14.00, 14 tracks, 56 minutes

 

Jim Richardson is a self-described 'gonzo scientist', a healthy sceptic who, with his brother Alan, writes a weekly column in Duluth's 'Ripsaw News' magazine (collected at www.gonzoscience.com).

But before the column came this CD, on which Richardson delivers deadpan accounts of various scientific and fortean controversies over tracks by fellow traveller Craig Minowa. Musically, it's occasionally clunky but often reminiscent of New York anti-folk combo King Missile, which is certainly not a bad thing.

But it's the lyrics that will endear this to most FT readers. The track titles speak for themselves: 'Evolution from space', 'Cryptozoology', 'The JFK Assassination', 'Mofo Aquatic Ape' and the quite literally rocking 'Earth Expansion Tectonics'.

Best track is 'So You've Seen the Virgin Mary', which combines a slinky indie jangle with speculation about tectonically-induced hallucinations and references to Jacques Vallee, Charles Fort and Michael Persinger. The prizewinning verse: ''You know more UFO sightings occur along faultlines / It's just a question of place / Here in the States we see spaceships / But in Zeitoun they saw Our Lady of Grace'.

'Carl Sagan: Buzzhound' meanwhile raises a different kind of controversy by highlighting the iconic astronomer's lifelong use of marijuana and speculating on how it helped him reach new scientific insights. All over a giggly dub backing, naturally.

And the final track before an instrumental outro, 'Debunking the Skeptics', launches an all-out philosophical assault on the inherent conservatism of the professional keepers of the scientific orthodoxy. 'But won't you skeptics tell me please / What are all these anomalies?' Richardson quite reasonably raps.

Richardson doesn't break any new ground in fortean thinking, but all the tracks provide a painless and sometimes penetrating introduction to a range of scientific heresies and rogue paradigms. And while the music isn't quite funky enough to fulfil George Clinton's 'Free your mind and your ass will follow' dictum, many of the tracks will fit happily into the mix at your next fortean UnDisco.