BANDS GATHER HISTORY. Like a river taking on water in heavy rain, myths build up around rock 'n' roll.

Example: King Black Acid. Since their first album in 1995, the psychedelic enclave's become a bit of a local legend, with frontman Daniel Riddle taking on much strange cargo. By many accounts, he's a reclusive nut hiding from a space invasion. He's also supposedly a rough taskmaster who rules his band with the regal hand the name implies, destroying the original band after three albums of glorious space rock.

I'm here to tell you that all of the above is (mostly) untrue, and King Black Acid has returned with a myth-defying disc: Loves a Long Song.

So, Mr. Riddle, what of this talk of your unbending rule?

"More like Iron Chef than iron fist," Riddle jokes. "I didn't have as good communication skills as I thought, and even worse, I had no patience. That's what got me the reputation as total assmaster."

Truthfully, the dissipation of the previous band's line-up (The Womb Star Orchestra) was due less to dictatorship and more to personal turmoil: the ending affair between the lead singer and keyboardist, the guitarist looking to do his own thing, etc.--more Fleetwood Mac soap opera than Sex Pistols flame-out.

Okay--fallacy one down. Are you really a kooky stargazer?

"I'm not afraid of aliens. I'm afraid of people, man. That they're going to crack into my brain, put me in khaki pants, and make me get a job. I'm into science, not science fiction. I've never even made it through a whole Star Trek before."

Bye-bye, fallacy two. Daniel Riddle isn't anyone's space nut.

Beyond destroying past fictions, the new album also obliterates KBA's unyielding density. For the first time, the band is taking a more accessible approach. While the tunes still clock in somewhere around seven minutes (hence the title), Long Song displays a new sense of melody and song structure. It's not necessarily a conscious concession to the mainstream, but just the way things came together. "It's just the band members I play with now facilitate the pop songs that I do," Riddle says. "The last line-up didn't want to do anything that might be considered happy or danceable. It's not like we're doing 'MmmBop' or something like that, but maybe we should. 'Iron MmmBop Butterfly.'"

Dubbed The Starseed Transmission, the new band is the cream of Portland's crop. Most notable are guitarist Sarah Mayfield (ex of The Atoms) and organist Pete Ficht (Joy Pop Turbo, The State Flowers), both of whom provide a solid melodic backbone to Riddle's more out-there noodling. Bassist Erick Alley is the only fresh face to the scene, while drummer Scott Adamo is the last Womb Star holdover. Together they embody the polarities the new KBA is searching for: tripped-out drums from the outer atmosphere and boogie rhythms only available on this earthly plane.

With the illusions ripped away, we are left with Loves a Long Song, the product of a band who have assimilated their history and converted it to beauty. It's their most confident record to date, as deep emotionally as it is musically. To get all obvious about it, it's like falling in love with a girl from Pluto, having her break your heart, and then taking a vacation in the rings of Saturn.

To put it more simply: King Black Acid--they really do rule the rock.