Influenced by the landscape around her New Orleans home, Melissa Guion has made a record of pastoral drifting electronic haze that coupled with her dream like, affected voice makes the whole thing sit somewhere between Grouper and early Cocteau Twins. Therefore she is almost the perfect artist for Kranky. On initial listen this has something to suggest that it could have lasting appeal to fans of rural psychedelics.
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MJ Guider is Melissa Guion’s hazy, pastoral electronica project. ‘Precious Systems’, she states, is “inspired and influenced by the landscape in and near New Orleans, particularly the juxtaposition of the natural with industrial and commercial constructs as they reflect life here.” So naturally, opening track ‘Lit Negative’ aurally reflects a moonscape. '60s sci-fi sounds (OK, a processed Moog) set the tone with washes of synth and low, reverberating bass guitar, Melissa’s Grouper/Liz Fraser-like voice hovering weightless above the drifting tape delay and Roland R-8 drum machine -- “Is there light on the inside? / Sensory on decline…” -- adding to the dreamlike atmosphere.
The album consists of drift upon drift, the tape echo conspiring with Guion’s machines and curiously detached voice to affect her otherworldly ambience. Of course, how much you like this record will depend on how much you like that kind of thing. Seven gauzy tracks later I am resolved to the fact that it is Melissa’s voice which is her foremost asset, her best employed instrument and the most significant factor lifting the whole record from the background of All This Lovely Soundscapiness. ‘Their Voices Clear Now’ is making my heart ache for a time and place that may or may not have once, fleetingly, existed. Or it could be that constant Cocteau Twins reference... again.
Towards the end of the record, ‘Evencycle’ breaks my reverie with a drum machine set to ‘light dance pulse’ and even a touch of house syncopation while the synths pan and wash to medium cycle, the whole thing phasing out of sync and back in-line again by stealth. The overall, trance-inducing feeling is reminiscent of a track by Gas or something similarly inspired on the Kompakt stable. I could listen to this looped on repeat for hours and I swear it would actually help me retain my sanity. If only more of the record were like this. Also, I’d love to hear the final track played backwards. For some reason.
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