Recorded in 1967 and released in 1968, this album largely reflects the vision of avant-garde composer Joseph Byrd. The supporting musicians on the album include excellent fretless bassist Rand Forbes who was a modern classical bassist (he bought an electric Ampeg fretless for the occasion), wonderful vocalist Dorothy Moskowitz, violinist Gordon Marron and percussionist Craig Woodson. The album is stylistically diverse and the pieces range from Beatles/Jefferson Airplane influenced psychedelic pop, gloomy quasi-Gregorian chant, through electronic experimentation and spacey interludes, to found sounds and general avant-garde tendencies suggestive of an influence by composers like Cage, Stockhausen, and Edgar Varese. The use of electronics on this album is very creative for 1968 and includes (most notably) a crude wave generator built by none other than Tom Oberheim (he was responsible for synthesizers like the Oberheim polyphonic for example). Other electronic effects include running the violin through a ring modulator, which resulted in the violin sounding like an electric guitar - this is an interesting choice given Joe's desire to get away from the guitar "clutter" as he referred to it as. Joe also subjected the vocal parts on The American Metaphysical Circus to the ring modulator treatment as well. Finally, the wave generator was run through an echoplex (echo device) that added yet another tonal color to the recording. The ten pieces are fairly short and range from the 2'37" Coming Down to the 6'38" The American Way of Love. With the exception of the whimsical introductory vocal section of the piece I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar, all of the music is quite serious. Overall this is an exceptional recording that is a refreshing departure from the rock music typically associated with the late 1960's (or at least the music that Rolling Stone Magazine would associate with the 1960s).
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