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I'm finally reaching the end of a protracted and panicky review marathon as I race against time to get all this week's significant releases written up before our weekly update goes out, so the last thing I need right now is something difficult to describe. Sadly I don't get to choose how easy records are to describe and so I've landed something utterly oblique and baffling from Brooklyn's freewheeling psychedelicists Guardian Alien.
This lot drift around in a fuggy ether of pootling hand drums, sparse guitar chitter, weird synthetic noises and incanted vocals, sometimes backwards, right through to out-rock soundscapes laden with buzzing distortion and teeth-rattling feedback. It's a deeply hypnotic experience which falls somewhere between minimal new age meditations of the kind you'd hear from people like Sun Araw or High Wolf, and freeform madness like Raccoo-oo-oon, Marijuana Deathsquads or even No Neck Blues Band. I'm really enjoying the miniatures 'Vapour', which builds its rhythms out of tiny snippets from a speech sample with only the most basic drum pattern augmenting its hypnotic pumping groove, like a wheezing fleshy machine, and 'Mirror', which alternates between speech samples and squalling free noise rock.
The album's real highlight comes in the form of its final track 'Spiritual Emergency', though, which opens with some backwards speech samples before taking us flying off on a freeform rock odyssey full of mind-melting drum grooves and crazy synth and guitar interplay which gets super-twiddly in places. Really quite unique, Guardian Alien strike a great balance between being entertaining and listenable and utterly oblique and somewhat confrontational. One for the space-heads.
8/10 Simon Voutt Customer review, 16th February 2014
Side one’s opener ‘Tranquilizer’ sets the tone for a less ‘Can’esque style of krautrock rhythms than the debut LP. This leads into a generally slower ride with meandering, rolling echoes of percussive waves. These waves often smothering distant voices or guitar feedback, here the looping vocal techniques come to fore. Separation of the four tracks isn’t terribly clear but this is for the good I feel. It’s certainly familiar extra terrestrial territory as the debut but with a slightly darker more sinister feel. Side two’s single title track ‘Spiritual Emergency’, kicks of with bubbling electronica and spoken word which bursts forth into a more familiar Greg Fox rhythm whilst remaining fresh sounding. Soon we have what sounds more like dueling sitars than guitar being pounded under the increasingly manic percussion. All now builds to a vocal and cymbal break, before easing back into a krautwash that finally washes the notes away on a Gong like psychedelic wave of noise! Eventually everything crashes into the stabbing loops of the final locked groove. Spiritual? an emergency for sure.
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