Joup Friday Album: Sunflower Session by The Red Plastic Buddha

The Red Plastic BuddhaThere is a terrific recording studio located on Division Street just west of Western Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. You know when you use a preset on a keyboard or recording application there usually is a default “Large Room” setting. I swear that setting is copied from this very studio also known as Strobe Recording. The room sound is as ideal as they come. Jamie Wagner, owner and proprietor of Strobe, occasionally hosts an event called “Strobe Sessions.” Well…he has for 63 times in the past 10 years! And Number 63 happen this past Thursday and I got to catch a terrific live performance of The Plastic Red Buddha including songs from Sunflower Sessions…this week’s Joup Friday Album. Local Chicago is good.

The Red Plastic Buddha

The Red Plastic Buddha at Strobe Recordings – Photo: Joe Grez

I like my Psychedelic…maybe a bit too much sometimes. Music! Music, I mean of course. For instance you can go back and read about a terrific band I wrote about a few months ago called Temples (click here). And early Floyd of course like Animals or Pipers at the Gates of Dawn and then there is the Byrds and probably Jimi can and should be included here (although he was so much more). I like getting lost in music sometimes…I don’t think I’m the only one. There is a chance that visual enhancements can increase the stimulation of the music and if there is a modern band for that it is The Red Plastic Buddha.

Here’s their dig straight from their bandcamp site:

“Formed in late 2005, Chicago’s Red Plastic Buddha developed a sound that blends the best elements of late 60s British psychedelia with modern dynamics, alternating between swirling sonic landscapes and catchy, melody driven pop.

“The Red Plastic Buddha draw frequent comparisons to Barrett-era Pink Floyd, 13th Floor Elevators and Love, as well as neo-psychedelic masters Brian Jonestown Massacre.”

Yep…right up my ally.

The Red Plastic Buddha

The Red Plastic Buddha at Strobe Recordings – Photo: Joe Grez

Vocalist and Bassist Tim Ferguson founded TRPB 10 years ago with various line-up changes but stayed true to his outer world grove. Ferguson released all of the groups albums on his own label Space Cat Records. One of the albums (this being an EP) Ferguson presented to me at Strobe Session was Sunflower Session recorded in 2007 at none other then Strobe Recordings! Goes around…comes around. The band performed a few songs from the album including Forget Me Not, Rollercoaster and Over and Over.

Sunflower Sessions is fun! It’s a quick 33 minute listen and upon it’s conclusion I wondered where the rest of it was. Maybe that’s for the best though. Ferguson vocals evoke a bit of other Chicago local Ike Reilly and perhaps Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips. Forget Me Not opens with a big guitar and tasty almost, dare I say, Pumpkin lick. Nice harmonies and organ…well produced…easily a radio single. It has this low-fi quality to it in some way though, which is the charm. Rollercoaster starts with a deceiving slick dissident guitar lead, then distant response voices to Ferguson’s verse. Yes! Bring on the Psychedelia! “Come on, let it happen to you.” Then more dissident Syd Barrett-esque guitar during the solo. Underlying sparse drums set the mood nicely throughout the track. On “Clouds” has a bit of aforementioned Brian Jonestown Massacre and good jammy Dead. Not overly noodling like some psychedelic can be. Don’t kid yourself this song still goes. Great timber and tones out of the guitars and Who like harmonies.

The Red Plastic Buddha

Mike Connor of The Red Plastic Buddha at Strobe Recordings – Photo: Joe Grez

“Kerosene” again boasts solid harmonies to Ferguson’s voice and righteous guitar work by then lead Todd Lazar. “Over and Over” has a Beach Boy element to it. I’m sure Ferguson did his Brian Wilson studies. And concluding the EP is live performance of “Gingerbread Pornography.”

The pictures included in the Friday pick are from the Strobe Session and man was it a great night. Sonically the optimal place was in the control room or the separated sound room with headphones so you can listen and watch the light show to maximum satisfaction.

Great show, great venue (and studio) and great EP. Here’s where you can find your own Red Plastic Buddha:



And their video for “Forget Me Not”

Listen and support Chicago Local, terrific scene still going on here.

Chester, what music appreciation do you have to contribute to Joup?

Joe Grez

Joe Grez

Joe Grzesik (JGrez) is still an artist developer trying to keep up with new technologies. Photography still has been one of his strongest passions. However, now his main focus has led him back to music where he teaches guitar, piano, saxophone and percussion privately. Music education can never be short changed.

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