Along the Way
Feb 07, 2014 Web Exclusive
Describing your album as "...an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind"—as he does in the liner notes for his latest record Along the Way—may sound ambitious and even a little pretentious, but for prolific Ohioan guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Mark McGuire (formerly one third of divisive and now disbanded electro-drone architects Emeralds), it's just another day at the office.
McGuire builds soundscapes with a lighter touch than his previous band. Carving out layers of sound from digital percussion, distant auto-tuned vocals, and washes of synthesized atmospherics, he surrounds them with his virtuosic playing of electric and acoustic guitar. Slowly winding up the songs with a distant, rumbling intensity until the album's mid-point—a 12-minute sonic monolith called "Instinct"—the second half of the album untangles itself and flows into what feels like more personal and affecting territory ("The Human Condition (Song For My Father)," "For the Friendships (Along the Way)") as it comes back down.
As with Emeralds, there is an undeniably new-age edge to the music which won't be for everyone—at times you can almost smell the incense and dreamcatchers—and there are times when it skirts perilously close to self-indulgence. But for all the moments when it almost slips into an instructional yoga DVD soundtrack parody ("In Search of the Miraculous") there are even more ("Astray," "The War On Consciousness," "Turiya (The Same Way)") which enthral. McGuire's undeniable talents reward far more times than they disappoint. (www.markmcguire.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 5/10
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