I hate to start off by quoting a one-sheet, but this statement about Lek’s Giant World Knowledge Bliss Control set off a red flag: “lyrics and poetry from stream of consciousness graphic imagery, musings on the reality of existence, and simple songs of smiling people met abroad.” I’m all for smiling people and all that but the entrance of the phrase “the reality of existence” immediately tells me that someone should probably put down the ‘shrooms for a bit. Consider Lek’s, a.k.a. Gregory Padrusch, bio—that he quit medical school to follow a guru from India through Northern Californian hills, he backpacks through third-world countries with a guitar, and taught himself to read and write Thai while actually in Thailand—and it almost starts to sound as if this, apparently quite brainy, songwriter might have more life experience than in mere psychedelics, but you can’t tell me that there wasn’t any drug use going into this album.
Lek’s Giant World Knowledge Bliss Control is, quite simply, a psychedelic rock record. Guitars swirl and melodies blaze with no minimum of echo and distortion effects. Think Black Angels or Düngen, but with even more freak-outs. That’s not always a good thing, but I’ll hand it to Padrusch, the man certainly knows how to sustain an intense mood. “Demon” is one such example, a lengthy rocker with a Hendrix-like fieriness and a Comets on Fire affinity for sonic extremes. “Fuzzworld,” interestingly enough, sounds less like the aforementioned bands and more like Cocteau Twins, with Espers’ Meg Baird providing the Elizabeth Fraser factor. “Gotam” has a similar psych-shoegaze vibe, one of the coolest sounding songs on the album, with effects-laden, yet only lightly distorted guitars and Baird’s voice providing an ethereal sheen to the woozy track.
The album’s middle section leans more toward acoustic compositions, like “Olivia,” “Elephants Parade” and the delicate, pretty “Patong.” In these instances, Padrusch sounds great, but the guy has an unfortunate tendency to incorporate extremely irritating “poetry” tracks, such as “Quixotic” and “Grandma’s Chickens” into the tracklist. Spoken word can be a bit off-putting to begin with, but with verses like “do not bequeath upon me your documentaries” and “artistic stars tortured by mellow, and mundane yellow,” that skip button couldn’t be close enough.
Lek’s strength lies in writing pop songs, and even some mellow interludes, but the fractured nature of Giant World Knowledge Bliss Control leaves it an ultimately flawed and confusing album. It has definite highlights, particularly when Meg Baird becomes part of the equation, but when Padrusch’s world traveling hippie vibe overtakes his songwriting, no amount of reverb can save it.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.