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Nick Riff 

Magick Museum (nickriff.com)

Just like an acid flashback, psychedelic rocker Nick Riff drops in unexpectedly for a while and then disappears. Riff's sporadic output includes two albums, a few seven-inches, and appearances on numerous compilations. But Cleveland hasn't heard from him since 2002. Magick Museum collects out-of-print tunes and heralds the arrival of a new album later this year. The disc was designed to introduce Riff to a new audience -- and it probably will, despite his thin voice, new-agey lyrics, and deplorable production.

Magick Museum makes much of Riff's formula of mixing simple pop-rock with cheery melodies and layers of trippy keyboards and guitars. Unlike many artists who embrace psychedelia, Riff would rather have his music float happily in the clouds than descend into insanity like vintage Pink Floyd or early Zappa. Riff's at his best when mixing pure-pop glee with druggy atmospherics (see "Cloak of Immortality" and "Vagabond Unknown"). Those moments make Magick Museum a mind-altering, mindless good time.

More by Matt Gorey

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