September 1st, 2013 Troubadour Flotsam and Jetsam Review

Atom Orr - "Flotsam and Jetsam" 

“Blankets of night, fingers of stars, fist of light – water everywhere, everywhere your Seven Sea Smile, a downward spiral into the water of your mouth…”

Sensual oceanic poetry of the highest order I say. Or in other words…

If Edgar Allen Poe had access to the technology (and the stimulants) of the 21st century he might have actually dared to dream (within a dream) a soundtrack to his Homeric odyssey “A Descent into the Maelstrom.” Incredulously, for those of us living in the Summer of Love circa 2013, we do not have to fantasize about such matters – for we inhabit a parallel realm that does contain that soundtrack and it’s name is Flotsam and Jetsam.

Flotsam and Jetsam is the eighth collection of songs by San Diego artist par excellence Christopher Hoffee, who, long before mutating into a Truckee Brother, transformed himself into Atom Orr (his artistically multi-disciplined alter ego).

Actually, Flotsam and Jetsam is more than just an epic musical allusion to the fantastical realms of Poe, Jules Verne, or the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau – its slippery narrative is akin to what might happen to Jonny Quest after coming of age and being seduced by a mermaid into a sublime adventure (similar to what Mickey Dolenz discovered by diving off a bridge in Bob Rafelson’s Head). The mermaid smiles and her kiss sends our protagonist reeling into the depths of feeling, in a manner alluded to by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung when he wrote, “Water is the commonest symbol for the unconscious.” OnFlotsam and Jetsam Hoffee explores that aspect of his archetypal nature (being born a Scorpio, a fixed water sign in astrology) with a flair that is rarely found within a song cycle. The entire enterprise hangs together as if drawn from the imaginarium of a chess master.

A riptide riposte to any cultural milieu, Flotsam and Jetsam provides the metaphoric means of paying homage to passion and the joy that springs from the expression of unbridled emotion. The Greek god “Oceanus” appears in an instrumental denouement and sandwiched within the alpha and omega of Flotsam and Jetsam we encounter an aural maelstrom of evil octopuses, sirens, sea horses, storms, a badass rap song entitled “Traveling at the Speed of If” and a meditation on the cosmos with a spaciously marvelous interpretation of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Flotsam and Jetsam is a libation of suppliant prayer: a five out of five stars modern-day psychedelic masterpiece. The cover art on the physical CD is wonderfully evocative, but you are encouraged to check out the digital download version for the inclusion of two stellar tracks that didn’t make the final cut: “Jetsam” and “Anywhere.” They serve as a marvelous nightcap to the main course. Check it out at