Audio Remasterer: Dave Cooley.
Liner Note Author: Jack Womack.
In conjunction with 2013's Record Store Day, the enormous coffee-table book Enjoy the Experience was released, a massive visual chronicle of record covers from decades' worth of privately pressed LPs and lengthy details about their individual micro-histories. In a pre-Internet age, these "homemade," minimally distributed, and commercially invisible albums were the equivalent of the YouTube video with under 1,000 views, the weekend hobbyist or bedroom recording artist's bid at sharing his or her music with an audience even incrementally larger than friends and family. The garish record covers give hints at the extreme outsider nature of the music within, and before getting too far into the two-volume audio companion that accompanies the book, it's clear that this is some of the weirdest stuff ever put to tape. Usually pressed in editions of mere hundreds, many of which were destroyed for lack of demand, the records showcased on Enjoy the Experience range from Gary Wilson's jazz fusion anthem of teenage sexual frustration "6.4 = Make Out" to the Invaders' deep-fried hippie funk instrumental "Spacing Out" to casually apocalyptic Christian pop from Ray Torske. Bizarre skeletal organ instrumentals, basement disco bands, desolate psychedelic loner folk, and even a tuneless medley of Elton John covers all get equal time, and all deliver a different type of demented genius. There's a danger with both the book and accompanying compilation in making these artists the butt of some joke, shifting the context from a deeper look at what were sincere attempts at expression to laughable relics of some forgotten time, clueless to their own freakishness. Listening past the initial rush of how out of step with trends or similarities to popular music these songs were reveals a sense of freedom and honesty that couldn't exist in correlation with audience expectations or a greater profile. While sometimes kitschy, sometimes disturbing, and almost always bizarre, the near-invisible songs and ideas on Enjoy the Experience are often brilliant in ways more "legitimate" artists could never dream of. ~ Fred Thomas