1968: The Story Of The The Most Radical Record In The Psychedelic Era ‘The United States of America’
The United States of America - BGgunnor / Youtube
The United States of America (not to be confused with the country) released its only eponymous studio album back in 1968. Bandleader Joseph Byrd envisioned that the album would be filled with experimental, avant-garde music that focused on political rock. This meant adding electronic sounds, political radicalism in music, and performance art all in one package.
While being a rock band, The United States of America used a violin instead of an electric guitar, enhanced with effects, to achieve a Jimi Hendrix-style sound. The album centered on psychedelia as a main point of focus, but with a cost-cutting method by way of variable wave shape generators to supply the electronic sounds and effects on the album.
The United States Of America boasts a different kind of electronic sound, where counterparts like Silver Apples often made robotic, synthetic sounding songs while the band stayed true to its organic style by sticking with melodic progressions being the centerpiece of the arrangement. The electronic sound effects then act as pepper and salt to the songs, seasoning them with the right amount of eclectic touch for a truly experimental and trippy record.
While The United States of America didn’t fare well upon release, the album’s importance in the progression of electronic music and its subgenres is priceless, paving the way for successors and making them realize the possibility of a new craze with artistic experimentation.